Stressed Sri Lankan negotiators throw journalists out

[TamilNet, Sunday, 29 October 2006, 14:26 GMT]
Sri Lankan government delegates in Geneva to negotiate peace with Tamil Tiger rebels were ‘under a lot of stress’ and wanted journalists removed from their hotel, diplomats told AFP on Sunday.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Sarala Fernando, said she asked the Swiss authorities to evict all journalists who had booked into the same four-star hotel where the government delegation was put up.

‘The delegation was under a lot of stress,’ Fernando told reporters outside the Hotel Epsom where the delegates were staying.

‘The press is always trying to put us in trouble. We asked for all the press to be removed.’

She said the Swiss themselves asked the hotel to find other accommodation for reporters who were checking in.

However, a Swiss foreign ministry official told AFP they had no role in shutting out reporters and some journalists remained despite the Sri Lankan government’s call to move them.

In Sri Lanka, the state-run Daily News said the details of the accommodation of the government team had been ‘leaked by irresponsible persons in Colombo’ and the media presence at the same hotel was an ‘unnecessary infringement of their privacy, security and confidentiality.’

Unlike in previous rounds, the Sri Lankan delegates stayed separately from the Tamil Tigers who were staying at another hotel nearby.

The LTTE held a formal press briefing at the end of the first day of talks. The government delegation has not given briefings, although individual diplomats have spoken to media representatives.


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