Shortened fifth round of talks in Europe
[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 January 2003, 11:59 GMT]
The fifth round of direct talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government will be held in Europe on 7-8 February, the Norwegian government said Thursday. The duration of the round has been shortened to enable the LTTE to complete internal consultations before the next stage of the peace process, the statement said. Heavy flooding and the risk of virulent infectious diseases had prevented the LTTE Chief Negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, from travelling to the Vanni, it added.
The full text of the Norwegian press release follows:
The Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are scheduled to hold the fifth session of direct negotiations on 7 – 8 February at a location to be determined in Europe.
The parties agreed to change the venue for the upcoming negotiations from Thailand to Europe at the request of Mr. Anton Balasingham, chief negotiator of the LTTE, who will travel to the talks from his residence in London.
Furthermore, the heavy floods and the heightened risk of contracting virulent infectious diseases in the north of Sri Lanka have prevented Mr Balasingham, from travelling to the Vanni during the past two months to consult with the LTTE leadership.
Recognising the importance of adequate consultations within the LTTE for progress in the peace talks, the parties have agreed to limit the duration of the fifth session of talks to two days in Europe. Mr. Balasingham plans to visit the Vanni before the sixth session of peace talks in Japan in mid-March.
At the fifth session, the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE plan to focus discussions on their ongoing efforts to accelerate immediate humanitarian and rehabilitation activities. The parties also intend to begin consultations on matters relating to human rights, with the participation of Mr. Ian Martin as a resource person on the subject. As at the previous sessions, the Government of Norway will be present as the facilitator to the peace process, at the request of both parties.
Additional information on the practical arrangements for the fifth session will be made available, when finalised, by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo.