LTTE refutes reports Nepal is talks venue
[TamilNet, Saturday, 12 January 2002, 13:30 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers’ chief negotiator and political advisor, Mr. Anton Balasingham, Saturday dismissed press reports suggesting that the LTTE and the government were looking at Nepal as a suitable venue for negotiations. Contacted by TamilNet over comments attributed by Indian satellite channels to an ‘LTTE spokesman in Paris,’ Mr. Balasingham said the Himalayan kingdom was logistically “completely unsuitable” as a venue for peace talks.
The Daily Mirror newspaper Saturday said, “possibility of holding the proposed peace talks … in Kathmandu is being looked into by both parties.”
“Earlier, there was consensus over a venue in India as a logical choice. However, objections raised by several political groups in Tamil Nadu there forced the parties concerned to look for an alternative venue,” the paper claimed, adding that several Indian satellite TV channels quoted an LTTE spokesman in Paris as saying the LTTE was considering Nepal as an suitable venue.
However, Mr. Balasingham Saturday emphatically denied that there was agreement on a suitable venue with the Sri Lankan government. He also told TamilNet by telephone that logistical considerations ruled out Nepal and said southern India was the most practical location from the perspective of both sides’ negotiators.
“Inevitably, the smooth and productive progress of talks would require close coordination between the [negotiation] teams and their respective leaderships,” Mr. Balasingham said.
“Given the necessity for secure consultation on sensitive matters, regular face-to-face discussions [between teams and their leaderships in north and south Sri Lanka] must be practical,” he added.