Peace talks in September - Norway
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 August 2002, 16:31 GMT]
Direct talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government will commence in Thailand with Norwegian facilitation between 12th and 17th of September, an official statement by the Norwegian government said Wednesday.
The full text of the press release follows:
“Progress in Sri Lanka Peace Process. Meeting between Balasingham and Moragoda
“On August 14, 2002 a meeting was held in Oslo between the Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Reforms, Science and Technology and Deputy Minister for Policy Development and Implementation, Milinda Moragoda, and the chief negotiator for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Anton Balasingham. Moragoda was accompanied by the Director General of the Secretariat for the Coordination of the Peace Process of the Sri Lankan government, ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke. Balasingham was accompanied by his wife, Adele. The meeting took place in the presence of Norwegian State Secretary Vidar Helgesen and the Norwegian facilitation team consisting of special advisor to the Foreign Ministry Erik Solheim, Norwegian ambassador to Sri Lanka Jon Westborg and advisor Lisa Golden. During the discussion on the ceasefire agreement, the Head of Mission of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Trond Furuhovde, was also present.
“This was the second direct meeting between the chief negotiator of the LTTE and a central government minister supervising the peace process. The meeting followed up on the progress made at the first meeting between Moragoda and Balasingham, held on July 27 at the Norwegian ambassadorial residence in London.
“In the meeting, the parties agreed to commence formal talks in Thailand between the 12th and 17th of September, with Norwegian facilitation. The Norwegian government will issue a statement announcing the exact date for the meeting.
“The meeting in Oslo also covered issues related to the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, among them the situation in the high security zones, the resettlement of internally displaced persons and the release of detainees. The two sides took note of the July report of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission on violations of the ceasefire agreement. The parties discussed reported incidents of LTTE recruitment of cadres under the age of eighteen and abductions. The LTTE agreed to investigate the issues and take necessary remedial measures. In this context, the parties welcomed the upcoming visit in late August of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, to the north and east of Sri Lanka.
“The atmosphere in the meeting was cordial and constructive. The session lasted for two hours, followed by lunch.
“While in Oslo, each of the parties also met with Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Petersen. Petersen commended the parties for their agreement on starting talks in Thailand, saying it demonstrates that they are working together in a highly constructive spirit to resolve issues and take the peace process forward.”