Akashi meets Pirapaharan
[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 May 2003, 00:02 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Wednesday told the Japanese peace special envoy Mr Yasushi Akashi that they would consider his request to participate at the Aid Donor conference in Japan seriously if the Government of Sri Lanka took positive steps towards implementing decisions taken at six previous rounds of talks, sources in Vanni said.
LTTE political advisor Mr.Anton Balasingham said at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, "We are not running away from peace talks. We have given time and space to the government to come out with positive steps regarding the implementation of the decisions already arrived at several
rounds of talks."
The talks between the leader of the LTTE Mr.V.Pirapaharan and the Japanese special peace envoy Mr.Yasushi Akashi commenced around 10 in the morning Wednesday .
LTTE political advisor Mr.Anton Balasingham, LTTE political Head Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan, Ms Adele Balasingham and Dr.Jay Maheswaran participated in the talks with Mr.Pirapaharan.
The Japanese delegation comprised of Japanese Special Envoy, Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mr. Seiichiro Otsuka, Regional Directors at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Takio Yamada and Mr. Ryousuke Kamono and Second Secretaries Mr. Koji Yagi and Mr. Masatomi Oikawa.
At the conclusion of talks around 1 pm LTTE leader Mr.Pirapaharan presented Tamil Eelam map and LTTE insignia to Mr. Akashi. Mr. Akashi presented a gift package to the LTTE leader Mr.Pirapaharan, Vanni sources said.
During the two and a half hours talks, the Japanese special peace envoy Mr. Akashi requested the LTTE leadership to resume peace talks with the GOSL and to attend Aid Donors' Conference scheduled to be held next month in Japan, sources said.
The LTTE leaders requested that the GOSL should take steps to properly setup the North East Reconstruction Fund to prevent bureaucratic bottlenecks and legal hurdles in utilizing the donor funds.
Mr.Akashi left Killinochchi Wednesday evening. Before leaving he was shown the Killinochchi general hospital where no development work has taken place after the foundation stone was laid three months ago under a project funded by the
Asian Development Bank, Vanni sources said.
LTTE political advisor Mr.Anton Balasingham later met the press. Balasingham's comments to the press posted on the LTTE peace secretariat web site follow:
"Mr. Pirapaharan was leading the delegation on behalf of the LTTE and Mr. Yasushi Akashi and other representatives were on the other side and we have had an exchange of very constructive ideas for the last two hours. Main issue that was discussed is LTTE's concerns with regard to certain non-implementation of pelages and agreements that have been agreed to in the last six sessions of talks. Mr. Akashi was insisting that we should resume negotiations as early as possible and to attend the Tokyo donor conference. We have told him that we will seriously consider this request. But at the same time we have indicated to him that the Sri Lanka Government should take some immediate measures to see the proper implementation of decisions arrived at in the previous phase of negotiations.
Other main issues that were discussed are the proper functioning of the Sub-Committee for Immediate Humanitarian and Reconstruction Needs (SIHRN). We insisted SIHRN should be made more efficient and that it has to be extended and that the North Eastern reconstruction fund had to be reactivated properly. It must be properly and legally constituted so that donor funds can be utilized. There are some legal difficulties with regard to these funds. So we have suggested that the government take actions to ensure that this fund is properly and legally constituted.
Most importantly, we have requested that the Government of Sri Lanka take immediate measures for the resettlement of the displaced people and refugees. These people have been languishing in refugee camps for the last ten years. But the government is giving primacy to the security concerns of the armed forces rather than giving importance to the humanitarian aspects of this problem. So, we have explained to Mr. Akashi that this is a very serious humanitarian problem, which has to be addressed and that unless some concrete actions are taken, we will not be in a position to make a positive decision with regard to resuming talks and to participate in the donor conference.
This is briefly what we discussed with Mr. Akashi today. Mr. Akashi is going back to Colombo and most probably will be meeting the Prime Minister tonight and he will explain concerns articulated by the LTTE and see what sort of action could be taken by next week. So the coming week is crucial. If the Government is prepared to take any positive action, then of course, we will make a favorable decision. Otherwise it is going to be a difficult problem."