Historic peace talks to begin in Thailand

[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 September 2002, 15:18 GMT]
The first face-to-face meeting between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) peace delegates is scheduled to take place at Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel, in the Sattahip Naval Base at Chonburi Province in Thailand at 3.00 pm tomorrow. This will be preceded by an opening ceremony at 10.30 am presided by Thailand Permanent Secretary Mr. Tei Bunnang. More than 200 reporters from world media are expected to cover the event.

Eric Solheim, the Norwegian mediator, talking to the press Sunday evening at Jomtien Hotel, said that Norway will be attending the talks in observer capacity.

Thailand Talks 2
Dish antennas setup by news agencies for broadcasting peace talks directly from Sattahip
Minister G.L. Peris will lead the Sri Lankan Government contingent that includes in addition to him, Ministers Rauf Hakeem, Milinda Moragoda  and Secretary General of the Government's Peace Secretariat Bernard Gunatileka. LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingam will lead the LTTE team that includes in addition to Balasingam, US-based attorney Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, Australia-based Development expert Dr. Jay Maheswaran and sociologist Adele Balasingam who will also function as the secretary to the delegation.

This is expected to be the first of a series of meetings between the two parties aimed at negotiating an end to a bitter conflict that has lasted for more than two decades. Norwegian facilitators has repeatedly expressed caution that the issues involved are complex and that it will take months or even years before a final resolution is reached.

Thailand Talks 3
Special security of Thailand Military in the Ambasssdor City Jonmtien Hotel in the Pattaya, Sunday morning.
Political analysts say Thailand is reinforcing its image as a willing regional peace-maker by providing a secure and neutral venue for the Sri Lankan government and LTTE delegates for face-to-face negotiations. "It's a tribute to Thailand as a stable democracy in Asia, and it's seen by the parties as a perfect venue," a Norwegian diplomat said.

The embassy of Norway published the following as the schedule for the Sri Lanka Peace Talks:

Monday September 16

10:30 AM Opening Ceremony (press invited)
3:00 – 6:00 PM First negotiating session

Tuesday September 17

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Second negotiating session
2:00 – 5:30 PM Third negotiating session
7:00 PM Delegates’ dinner

Wednesday, September 18

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Fourth negotiating session
2:00 – 2:45 PM Press conference
Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel (Trad Room)

Thailand Talks
Sattahip, a quaint coastal town on the Eastern seaboard of Thailand.


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