"LTTE prepared for talks" - Akashi

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 12:09 GMT]
Yasushi Akashi, Japanese peace envoy, after meeting Political Head of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), S.P.Thamilchelvan in Kilinochchi Wednesday, said: "We obtained commitments from Mr. Thamilchelvan that LTTE has prepared to go to Geneva for talks on the 28th October. I have insisted the importance of both sides to end all acts of violence and create an atmosphere for peaceful, sincere and honest discussions."

Japan's special peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi
"I was able to get LTTE's willingness and preparedness to go to Geneva," he told reporters in Kilinochchi.

Akashi also said that one Geneva meeting will not deliver total and durable peace and that several meetings will be needed. Both parties have to be patient and flexible in their attitudes, but they should feel free to discuss anything and everything on their minds, Akashi added.

Excerpts from exchanges with the press follow:

Question: Tamils feel the peace talks have come to a stand still. Even after four and half years there is no sensible solution in sight. what is your response?
Akashi: This situation has continued for more the 20 years. Many decades of conflict cannot be solved over night. We need a lot of mutual patience, mutual accommodation and understanding. Lots of talks are needed. We should not loose heart because of the many obstacles on the way, not be pessimistic and we should not close the door for future talks with the other side. So long as this attitude is maintained I think there is hope - there is a strong hope of improving the situation. In the meantime the International Community, particularly the four Co-chairs will support to overcome these difficulties in continuing the dialogue and negotiations between the government and the LTTE.

Question: Though the International Community and the Co-chairs are committed they have failed to achieve any tangible results. Agreement in the last Geneva talks has not been implemented. The International Community does not seem to follow-up ensuring that parties implement their commitments. How do you respond to this?
Akashi: I think the two parties, the LTTE and the government, differ in the interpretation of the CFA and what it means and, I think they should sit down at the same table and talk things over to arrive at a consensus. I am convinced that there is lot of room for agreement. The present situation is totally unacceptable for every body. Tamilchelvan speaking on behalf of the leadership is committed to peaceful solution and from President Rajapakse I have his clear word of total commitment to peace.

Question: Are Mr. Rajapakse and Mr Kohona doing everything to avoid war?
Akashi: Yes, the situation is very delicate, precarious, vulnerable and therefore both sides have to make maximum efforts to prevent war. But if both sides keep repeating what they are doing is defensive and blaming the other of offensives, there will be no progress.

Question: As peace facilitators can't you exert pressure on the government regarding its offensives on the LTTE administered area?
Akashi: I think it is necessary to conduct constant discussion with the Government and the LTTE. So I am glad that Japan will be joined by Norway, US as well as the EU on behalf of the entire international community.

Question: What is you future part in assistance?
Akashi: We will continue our assistance, continue our efforts to improve the lives of people here. We have done more than other countries. In the event of a war we may have to reduce or even stop assistance. That will be a great loss.

Question: Is there any possibility of opening the A9 route to Jaffna?
Akashi: We are continuing discussion on the possibility of opening A9 as part of the CFA. The Government has expressed full commitment to the CFA and discussions with the Co-chairs can be conducted on this context as well as on others matters.

Question: How were the discussions today?
Akashi: I am going back with a strong hope that full scale negotiations will be resumed at Geneva on the 28th and if good momentum is created there , I hope there will be progress in Geneva and elsewhere. We the Co-chair countries will be working at it very closely.

Question: Why have the International community and Co-chairs failed to condemn the killings by aerial bombings?
Akashi: I think civilian killings by aerial bombardment is deplorable... even by any other means is deplorable. We have been repeatedly expressing our total position and our sense of abhorrence to the use of violence to kill civilians. Deaths of this nature are most unfortunate. Killing of innocent civilians is unacceptable anywhere in Sri Lanka and by any means.


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