LTTE suggests India could host talks

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 January 2002, 12:52 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers have suggested to the Norwegian government that future negotiations with the Sri Lankan government could be held in southern India, press reports said Tuesday. The Hindu and the Tamil Guardian reported Tuesday that the LTTE’s suggestion is being conveyed to the Sri Lankan and Indian governments by a Norwegian delegation expected in South Asia later this week.

As the Norwegian peace initiative gathered pace this week, suitable venues and locations for future negotiations are being explored, sources close to the LTTE told Tamil Guardian this week.

“With Sri Lankan territory deemed unsuitable given the inherent security concerns and the health requirements of the LTTE’s chief negotiator and political advisor, Mr Anton Balasingham, south India was an ideal location,” the London-based paper quoted the LTTE as telling the Norwegian government.

“Security considerations, convenience and proximity to homeland,” motivated the LTTE suggestion, The Hindu reported, quoting informed Tamil sources.

The Hindu said the LTTE requires Indian assistance in two phases. “First, it wants New Delhi to allow its political adviser and chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, and spouse, Adele Anne, to reside temporarily in Chennai before and during talks with the Sri Lankan Government,” the paper said. “Second, it wants India to extend its good offices further and let the talks facilitated by Norway to be conducted in a South Indian city such as Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram or Bangalore.”

Negotiations based in India would permit negotiators on both sides to shuttle rapidly for consultations with their respective leaderships in Colombo and the Vanni, the LTTE had pointed out to the Norwegian team, according to the Tamil Guardian. As the regional power, India has important interests in ensuring that a lasting solution to the Sri Lankan conflict is achieved at the earliest opportunity and the provision of a suitable venue would prove invaluable assistance, it quoted the LTTE as having said.

In its editorial column this week, the Tamil Guardian said “the provision of a venue for talks in the context of the Norwegian peace initiative would be significant contribution to [its] success.”

“From India’s perspective, the hosting of such talks should be a relatively uncomplicated matter. As the regional power, India justifiably has vested interests in both securing a speedy negotiated outcome to Sri Lanka’s conflict and in the nature of the settlement itself,” the paper’s editorial said. “Regional authority, geographical proximity and vested interests provide compelling reasons for the necessity of India’s assistance in this regard.”


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