Thailand talks after truce implemented
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 April 2002, 14:49 GMT]
Direct talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government could take place in Thailand in the middle of June following the implementation of the terms and conditions of indefinite cease-fire agreement signed by the two sides in February, LTTE sources said Wednesday. This was suggested in discussions between an LTTE delegation led by the movement's leader, Vellupillai Pirapaharan and a Norwegian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister, Vidar Helgesen.
The two hour meeting at LTTE's political headquarters in Kilinochchi was described as "friendly and constructive" by the sources.
Mr. Pirapaharan had expressed dissatisfaction with Sri Lankan delays in the implementing of the terms and conditions of the ceasefire agreement, the sources said. Continued occupation of Tamil public places by Sri Lankan military was among the issues raised.
With key aspects of the cease-fire agreement such as the lifting of fishing restrictions and enabling the entry of unarmed LTTE cadres into government-controlled areas scheduled to implemented within 90 days of the signing on February 22 and prevailing slippages in other deadlines, talks could probably begin in the middle of June, the LTTE said.
The terms and conditions of the cease-fire agreement had to be fully implemented before peace talks went ahead in Thailand, the LTTE had pointed out to the Norwegian delegation. The Tigers also reiterated that Sri Lanka's ban on the movement had to be lifted before direct talks.
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission is to be given details of the issues raised in Wednesday's meeting. Mr. Helgesen said he would take up the matter with Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the sources said.
The LTTE delegation included its chief negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, head of the movement's political section, Mr. Thamil Chelvan and Mrs. Adele Balasingham.
The Norwegian delegation included Mr. Jon Westborg, Oslo's Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mr. Erik Solheim, Special Advisor to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and Kirsti Tromsdale, an official from that ministry.