Balasingham urges action on aid

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 May 2005, 16:37 GMT]
Norwegian diplomats met on Wednesday with the Liberation Tigers’ Chief Negotiator and political advisor, Mr. Anton Balasingham, to discuss current developments in Oslo’s peace initiative in Sri Lanka, sources close to the LTTE in London said. Mr. Balasingham had welcomed the donor community’s commitment to a joint mechanism between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE for aid distribution, but called for an agreement to be finalised and signed, they said.

The meeting came a day after international donors wrapped up a key conference in Kandy pledging $3bn in aid for Sri Lanka, but stressing the importance of progress in resolving the island’s protracted ethnic conflict to pave the way for its disbursement.

Mr.A.BalasinghamNorwegian Special Envoy Mr. Erik Solheim and Foreign Ministry official, Ms. Lisa Golden, met with Mr. Balasingham at his residence in London for two hours of discussions, the sources said.

Noting President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s assurance to donors Monday that she would overcome Sinhala right wing opposition within her government to the joint mechanism and strike a deal with the Tigers, Mr. Balasingham had called for concrete action, the sources said.

“[President Kumaratunga] must engage seriously with the LTTE in finalising the terms of the joint mechanism and sign the agreement [to enable aid to flow to the Northeast],” Mr. Balasingham was quoted as saying.

After two decades of war and in the wake of the Boxing Day tsunami, the Tamil people desperately needed the international donors’ assistance, Mr. Balasingham had said.

Erik SolheimMr. Solheim said he would convey the LTTE’s view to the Sri Lankan government, according to the sources.

Noting the recent spate of violent incidents in Sri Lanka, the Special Envoy had stressed the importance of both sides remaining committed to the February 2002 ceasefire agreement.

Mr. Solheim, who recently travelled to Delhi to discuss developments in the Norwegian peace initiative with the Indian government, briefed Mr. Balasingham on his visit, sources said, but declined to reveal further details.


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