Peace talks to resume soon - LTTE

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 June 2003, 04:27 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) this week sent a positive signal to the Sri Lankan government that the peace negotiations, stalled for the past few months, would resume soon once the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s administration submits concrete proposals for an interim administration.

Mr Anton Balasingham, the LTTE’s chief negotiator, conveyed this message to Mr Erik Solheim, Norwegian special envoy, who met him in London on Monday. The discussions, which lasted for three hours, were primarily centered on defusing the current impasses in the negotiating process. Ms Lisa golden, Executive Officer of the Royal Norwegian Foreign Ministry, accompanied Mr Solheim to the meeting.

Mr Balasingham conveyed to the Norwegian facilitators that the LTTE was seriously committed to a negotiated political settlement, Tamil Guardian, a London weekly said.

“Our leadership is awaiting the government’s proposal for an interim administration. If a concrete set of proposals is presented the LTTE will study the framework and suggest amendments and improvements. Thereafter, the parties could enter into negotiations to formalise and finalise the envisaged interim administration,” Mr Balasingham said.

“The LTTE cannot suggest any inputs at this stage. We expect the government to place something solid on the table so that we can work on it,” Mr Balasingham further told the Norwegian envoys, commenting on calls by the government last week for the movement to propose a way past the present impasse.

The discussions between the Norwegian officials and Mr. Balasingham were also focussed on a new, redefined agenda. Mr Balasingham also presented a critique of the proceedings and modalities of the past negotiating sessions and argued that the facilitators were inclined to work on an agenda to placate the international donor community thereby ignoring the urgent problems of the people.

“Instead of pursuing guidelines, milestones and roadmaps, for an imaginary solution, the talks should address crucial issues related to the harsh existential realities of the ground situation,” Mr Balasingham said.

He also criticised the extra-ordinary high profile given to each round of talks propping up international press conferences that generate expectations of substantial breakthroughs within a short period of time.

Mr Balasingham also told the Norwegian envoys that excess internationalisation of the peace process allowing the involvement of powerful extra-territorial forces might complicate the process and upset the balance of equal partnership.

“The recognition of the parties in conflict as partners in making peace by concerned international governments is a crucial factor in promoting peace and ethnic reconciliation,” Mr Balasingham said.

The negotiations between the Tamil Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka have been stalemated since April this year following the LTTE’s decision to temporarily suspend the talks complaining of bureaucratic hurdles in implementing decisions.

Following Monday’s discussions Mr Solheim briefed the Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government’s chief negotiator, Prof. G. L. Pieris, who are in London on an official visit.

Mr. Wickremesinghe last Thursday said his government was prepared to discuss an interim administration for the Northeast. "We plan to establish an interim council with the agreement of the LTTE that will safeguard the rights of all communities," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Observing that this was not a new offer from the government, Mr Balasingham called on the government to come up with concrete proposals. “This statement of intent, as we have already stated, cannot be a basis for negotiations,” he told TamilNet.

Mr. Wickremesinghe, who is expected to return to Sri Lanka on the weekend, was also accompanied by Sri Lanka’s Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabayson, fuelling speculation the Premier would seek expert legal advice in London before formulating his government's proposals to the LTTE.


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