Sri Lankan President makes statement on days of tranquillity

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 September 1999, 00:00 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President welcomed the announcement by Velupillai Pirabaharan, the leader of the Liberation Tigers, that his organisation would observe four days of tranquillity for a UNICEF vaccination program.

The President read out a short prepared statement in faltering Tamil on the days of tranquillity that the her government and the Liberation Tigers have agreed upon to facilitate the UNICEF's vaccination program for children.

The statement was broadcast this evening over the state run radio and TV stations.

She said that new opportunities such as these will arise in the future to find bring about peace.

A few political observers in Colombo and Jaffna interpreted the President's remark this evening that such opportunities will arise in the future as an indication of a move on the part of the Sri Lankan government to initiate talks with the Liberation Tigers.

They said that the high level delegation that the Sri Lankan government has recommended for a conference at an Irish University in the coming months, comprising Vanni security forces commander, Maj.Gen. Lionel Balagalle, Ram Manikkalingam (Rockerfeller Foundation, US) and Sri Lankan businessmen Lalith Kotalawela and Aitken Spence Chairman Sivaratnam points in this direction.

Others dismissed this interpretation of the President's speech tonight as an unimpressive political gimmick aimed at wooing the Tamil vote, chiefly because she has to face crucial elections to the Parliament next year.

They pointed out that this was the reason why the President had tried to speak in Tamil.

A PA source, however, said that this was routine speech.


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