Maldives keen to host Lanka-LTTE talks

[TamilNet, Monday, 16 December 2002, 12:27 GMT]
The government of Maldives Monday said it was keen to host the peace talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) during a two-day visit to the atoll nation by Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. The Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom wished success for the peace talks to end Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict during official talks with Mr. Wickremesinghe in Male, the main atoll that is the country’s capital.

Gayoom-Ranil
Maldivian Prime Minister Gayoom and Ranil Wickremesinghe in Male during December 16 visit (Photo: Maldive Govt. website)
The Sri Lankan PM began the two-day visit to the Maldives Monday to discuss bilateral issues and to explain the progress of his government’s peace negotiations with the Liberation Tigers.

A press note from the Sri Lankan PM’s office said that his discussions with the Maldivian government focussed on tourism and education development.

In April, the LTTE’s chief negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, flew to the Vanni in a sea plane from Male where he had arrived from London. However, the Maldives declined him transit when he had to visit the Vanni again in October to brief LTTE leader Mr. Velupillai Pirapaharan about the status of the peace talks with Colombo.

Reacting to the report an LTTE official said: “President Gayoom’s invitation to hold the talks in the Maldives is a very positive development that bodes well for peace”.

The education system in the Maldives is heavily dependent on teachers from Sri Lanka. Many Maldivians receive their higher education in Sri Lankan universities and colleges. Sri Lanka exports fresh vegetables and other perishable commodities that are scarce on the Maldivian atolls.

Sri Lanka and Maldives constituted a key strategic asset of the allied Naval forces during World War II. Both countries were bound by defence treaties to Britain until the late fifties.

Madivian diplomatic sources said that the Sri Lankan PM could not be accorded a red carpet welcome Monday morning due to lashing monsoon rains in Male.

 

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