Fourth round of talks begin

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 January 2003, 10:31 GMT]
The fourth round of direct talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government began Monday at the Rose Garden hotel, 32km west of Bangkok, Thailand. The LTTE and Sri Lankan delegations were led by Chief Negotiators, Mr. Anton Balasingham and Prof. G. L Peiris respectively. The Norwegian facilitators were led by Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Vidar Helegesen.

Thailand talks

The talks are expected to focus on the Sri Lanka military’s continued occupation of High Security Zones, which is blocking the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people, informed sources said. The issue of decommissioning LTTE weapons was not on the agenda, the sources added.

Mr. Balasingham’s negotiating team comprised, Mr. S.P. Tamilselvan, head of the LTTE’s political section, Colonel Karuna, Batticaloa-Ampara Special Commander and Mrs. Adele Balasingham, Secretary to the delegation.

Prof. Peiris’s team comprised Ministers Milinda Moragoda and Rauf Hakeem and Director of Sri Lanka’s Peace Secretariat, Bernard Gunatillake.

Thailand talks

Apart from Mr. Helegesen, the Norwegian facilitators included Erik Solheim, special advisor to Norway’s Foreign Ministry, and Oslo’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mr. Jon Westborg.

Amongst the LTTE’s resource people attending the talks were legal expert Mr. Visuwanathan Rudrakumaran, Dr. Jay Maheswaran, a development expert and Mr. Pulidevan, head of the LTTE’s Peace Secretariat.

The first negotiating session Monday was preceded by a photo session at which three groups of journalists were admitted in succession to photograph the delegates seated at the table and in informal conversation around the large, plush negotiating room.

All the delegates seemed relaxed, reporters said. Mr. Balasingham and Prof. Peiris shook hands for the cameras.

The talks are expected to conclude on Thursday.

Thailand talks


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