LTTE decides on delegation for talks

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 August 2002, 16:50 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers have decided on the delegation they will be sending to the Norwegian facilitated peace talks in Thailand next month, a Tamil expatriate newspaper reported Tuesday. The LTTE will be sending a four person delegation led by the movement's chief negotiator and political advisor, Mr. Anton Balasingham, to the 3-day negotiations scheduled to begin on September 16, LTTE sources told Tamil Guardian Monday. The paper also quoted LTTE officials as welcoming the Sri Lankan government's announcement Sunday that the ban on the movement would be lifted on September 6.

Apart from Mr. Balasingham, the other members of the LTTE delegation will be Mr. V. Rudrakumar, the LTTE's legal advisor, Dr. Jay Maheswaran, a rehabilitation and development expert and Mrs. Adele Balasingham, who will function as secretary, the sources told the English language weekly published in London.

anton_balasingham_3.jpgThe Sri Lankan government has not formally announced its delegation either, but it is widely expected that it will be lead by Sri Lanka's Constitutional Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris and will include Economic Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda and Mr. Bernard Gunatillake, Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat, the paper said.

Describing the September talks as 'a preliminary round,' LTTE sources told the Tamil Guardian the historic event would begin with opening statements to the press by the chief negotiators of both parties. Officials of Norway, the facilitator of the talks, and Thailand, the host, would also make opening statements to the press. Thereafter, the negotiation teams and the Norwegian facilitators would sit down behind closed doors, the sources said.

The talks would focus on the "urgent existential problems of the people of the north and east," the sources told Tamil Guardian. The matters would include the resettlement and rehabilitation of the large numbers of internally displaced people, the release of political detainees and demilitarisation of high security zones in the Tamil areas.

Matters like the interim administration for the north and east would be taken up at the second and subsequent sessions, the sources said.

peiris_g_l-p.jpgThe paper quoted diplomatic sources in Colombo as telling reporters that "both sides are prepared to do what is necessary to keep the dialogue non-problematic and constructive."

Meanwhile, responding to Sri Lanka press reports that the ban on the LTTE will only be lifted for one month, the officials told the Tamil Guardian that a time-bound de-proscription was "unacceptable."

The paper also said that in a goodwill gesture amid the preparations for talks, the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers are to exchange prisoners this Saturday. The event, scheduled to be held on the frontline north of Vavuniya, is expected to be attended by senior military commanders from both sides, the paper said.


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