Necessity for indefinite ceasefire to be stressed –paper

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 15 May 2001, 11:15 GMT]
The Norwegian peace envoy Mr. Eric Solheim will have meetings with Mr. Thamil Chelvan, head of the LTTE’s political section on 16 and 17 May in the Vanni. The meetings are expected to “focus on steps to bring about a suitable atmosphere for productive negotiations to be held between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government”. Meanwhile in its latest issue, the Tamil Guardian, the expatriate paper published from London, quoted sources in the Liberation Tigers, as saying “further discussions and clarifications on certain matters” had to be completed before the scheduling of peace talks could be considered. The LTTE sources, according to the paper, had dismissed as speculation reports in the Sri Lankan press that talks were imminent.

The Tamil Guardian also quoted LTTE sources as saying that the Sri Lankan government’s insistence that a date for negotiations be decided immediately was impractical as was the restriction of talks to a fixed time period. “The conflict has raged for decades. The immediate need is to end the bloodshed and suffering. Talks cannot take place in conditions of war”

Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jon Westborg will also be participating in meetings with Mr. Thamil Chelvan, the paper said.

The Norwegian visit to the Vanni is the first since the Sri Lanka Army's abortive and bloody offensive in the Jaffna peninsula at the end of April. Mr. Westborg and Mr. Thamil Chelvan met a few weeks prior amid Sri Lankan preparations for Operation Agni Khiela.

The importance of the de-proscription of the Liberation Tigers to enable the movement to participate in peace talks is expected to be a key point Mr. Thamil Chelvan would again raise with the Norwegian delegation, the Tamil Guardian said. He would also stress the necessity of establishing a permanent and indefinite ceasefire as well as easing the hardships on hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians in the areas not under the control of the Sri Lanka Army, the paper added.

The Sri Lankan government's insistence on maintaining its economic embargo on several essential items into the Vanni was discussed during Mr. Westborg’s meeting with Mr. Thamil Chelvan, and was another obstacle to finalising Norway's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the paper’s sources added.

Mr. Thamil Chelvan would remind the Norwegian delegation that Sri Lanka's proscription of the LTTE precludes the movement from being able to legally represent the Tamil people in negotiations and renders void any agreement that might be reached between the two sides, the sources said.

The Tigers said they were considering two separate initiatives to remove the tension between the two sides, namely the MOU and a bi-lateral ceasefire. Negotiations on the complex issues underlying the island’s protracted and bloody conflict should not be bounded by time, the LTTE argues. As such, the war must be stopped indefinitely through the establishment of a permanent, formal ceasefire, according to the Tigers.

“Though normalisation of civilian life in the Tamil homeland and cessation of armed hostilities are crucial for the resumption of peace negotiations, we have also called upon the Sri Lanka Government through the Norwegian facilitators to lift the ban on our liberation organisation so that we can participate in the peace negotiations as the authentic political organisation representing the people of Tamil Eelam” the LTTE said in a statement last week.

“Substantial progress has been made on the Norwegian proposal of the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ After intense discussions for a considerable time with the Norwegian facilitators,” the statement said. This Norwegian project, which calls for goodwill measures of mutual reciprocity, aims at de-escalation of the conflict and the creation of a congenial atmosphere conducive for talks.

“The Norwegian facilitators have [on May 8] also suggested a programme for bilateral cessation of hostilities. We consider this as a constructive proposal, which requires further clarifications and discussions before final agreement is reached,” The LTTE said.


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