'Keep us informed on the peace talks' - UNP

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 March 2000, 00:22 GMT]
"We have also been informed by the Government of Norway that the Government of Sri Lanka asked for discussions with the LTTE and we are also being informed of certain other developments and I thought I should be briefed on that matter before we start talks," said Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, leader of the Sri Lankan opposition, United National Party, according to the communique» on today's meeting between the Government and UNP, issued jointly by both parties this evening.

Excerpts from the communique:

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge in her opening address welcomed the UNP delegation warmly.

She said that this was the first time that the government and the major opposition party decided to secure national unity and discuss electoral issues with the concurrence of several parties in Parliament.

"I think therefore, a great responsibility lies on our shoulders and I think the future well being of our nation is in our hands" she said.

The United National Party leader, Mr.Ranil Wickremesinghe, (right) and the party Chairman Mr.Karu Jayasuriya at the press conference today, Photo:TamilNet
"I believe we have been given a mandate by the people to do what we are doing to do now. With the euphoria of victory in the Presidential elections we could have gone ahead without getting any consensus with anybody but our Government and parties have attempted to commence the new culture of politics of governance without conflictual governance and to achieve consensual governance." said the President.

Referring the 1997 draft constitution, the President that the government had not in any way amended the draft proposals of October 1997 in a serious way.

"We discussed the 1997 draft constitution with the Tamil parties and we have now a document of a few pages, which have some additions to the draft proposals, which actually completes it. We would like to discuss the proposals of 1997 and areas needed to be completed. Especially the Tamil parties have been raising these matters because the draft proposals were not totally agreed to by all parties. But today we are presenting you the 1997 document with a few pages we have sent to you which have been agreed to by all parties of the PA and the Tamil parties. This is what we hope we could discuss with you and hope to come a consensus" said President Kumaratunga.

Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Leader of the Opposition said in response that it was an important meeting of trying to achieve a consensus between two major parties in the country and how to bring the North East conflict to an end.

"While talking of the need for devolution, we have also raised the other important issue, that any consensus we reach here, should lead to the strengthening of the democratic process in the country" replied Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe.

The parties agreed upon the Agenda and the dates for subsequent meetings for further discussions in the month of March. Discussions commenced on several chapters of the Draft Constitution.

Both parties expressed satisfaction at the progress of the first day's discussion, according to the joint Communique.

The People's Alliance delegation comprised of Ministers Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, Dharmasiri Senenayake, D.M.Jayaretna, Prof. G.L.Peiris, Indika Gunawardene Batti Weerakoon and M. H. M.Ashraff.

Messrs Ranil Wickremasinghe, Karu Jayasuriya, Gamini Atukorale, Ronnie de Mel and K. N. Chocksy represented the United National Party.

Mr. K. Balapatabendi, Secretary to the President and Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaretna were also present at this meeting.


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