LTTE, GoSL to hold talks on truce implementation in Geneva

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 08:23 GMT]
Liberation Tigers said Wednesday that they have agreed to hold talks in Geneva with the Government of Sri Lanka on "smooth implementation" of the February 2002 Cease Fire Agreement. Chief Negotiator and Political Strategist of the Liberation Tigers, Mr. Anton Balasingham, told reporters that the talks, expected to begin in mid-February, would be limited to the implementation of the truce which has come under increasing strain recently. Talks on further matters could only take place after complete cessation of the Sri Lankan military's violent repression of the population in Government held areas of the Northeast, he said.

LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapaharan meets Norwegian International Minister Erik Solheim
The announcement of talks comes after the much-anticipated meeting between the Norwegian International Development Minister, Mr. Erik Solheim and the leader of the LTTE, Mr. Vellupillai Pirapaharan, Wednesday morning.

The Leader of the LTTE, Mr. V. Pirapaharan was accompanied by LTTE's Chief Negotiator Mr. Balasingham, LTTE's Political Head Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan, Head of Tamileelam Police Mr. B. Nadesan and Mrs Adele Balasingham, in his meeting with Mr. Erik Solheim and the Norwegian delegation.

LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapaharan meets Norwegian International Minister Erik Solheim

The LTTE and the Norwegian Delegation addressed the reporters in separate press conferences at the Planning and Development Secretariat (PDS) in Kilinochchi.

Mr. Erik Solheim, addressing the reporters, described it was a constructive step taken by the parties to the conflict.

Mr. Balasingham pointed out that military repression against Tamil civilians had intensified in recent weeks, sparking the flight of several thousand families from Jaffna and many other government-controlled places.

"We will only talk of the smooth implementation of the CFA," Mr. Balasingham said adding that the talks would concentrate on the implementation of the clauses in the February 2002 agreement.

LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapaharan meets Norwegian International Minister Erik Solheim

The prevailing situation in Sri Lanka’s Northeast had been discussed at length during the meeting. Mr. Pirapaharan had detailed the violence and harassment inflicted on the Tamil people by Sri Lanka’s military in recent weeks, Mr. Balasingham said.

The modalities of the talks, limited to the implementation of the existing CFA agreement, are to be finalized by both sides through Norwegian facilitators, Mr. Balasingham told reporters in Kilinochchi.

The LTTE delegation to Geneva will comprise Chief Negotiator Mr. Anton Balasingham, Political Head Mr. S. P. Tamilchelvan, Col. Jeyam, Police Chief Mr. B. Nadesan, Ms. Adele Balasingham and Batticaloa District Political Head Mr. Ilanthirayan (Marshall), Balsingham told the reporters.

Responding to journalists’ questions, Mr. Balasingham said the LTTE had suggested Oslo as a venue for talks as Norway was both the facilitator and head of the truce monitoring mission.

As this suggestion had unfortunately been interpreted as a condition for talks, the LTTE had decided to be flexible and agreed to hold talks in Geneva.

This new opportunity for peace was, moreover, intended to give the newly elected Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapakse, “another opportunity” to take up the peace process, Mr. Balasingham said.

He was referring to Mr. Pirapaharan’s annual Heroes Day address last November in which he made “an urgent appeal to the new Sri Lanka Government of Mr Mahinda Rajapakse to offer a reasonable political solution to the ethnic conflict without further delay” and warned “if the new government rejects our urgent appeal, opts for a hard-line position and adopts delaying tactics, we will, next year, in solidarity with our people, intensify our struggle for self-determination, our struggle for national liberation to establish self-government in our own homeland.”

Although the Sri Lankan government had given an undertaking to take steps to curb its military and paramilitary forces, nothing has hitherto been done, he said.


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