‘Peace talks to go on despite challenges’ – PM

[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 March 2003, 13:46 GMT]
"The ethnic problem in this country can be solved only by talks, and there is no other way; hence, whatever the challenges and road blocks the peace talks will face, we cannot abandon the talks," said Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, addressing the general meeting of the United National Party (UNP) held in Kandy Wednesday evening.

Mr. Wickremasinghe said that the war that went for a few decades had caused many challenges to the country. "That is why we have been talking with the LTTE. But the opposition parties are trying to prevent the talks. If the peace talks end, the country will again face serious challenges. The people should identify the designs of the opposition parties and continue to support the peace process," he said.

Ministers G. L. Pieris, Karu Jayasuriya and Rauff Hakeem, UNP parliamentarians and other prominent members of the party also participated in the meeting.

Mr. Wickremasinghe continued, “During the current ceasefire, it is unavoidable that there will be some disturbances, but we have been solving such problems through talks. No one should think that the peace talks would be stopped by such disturbances.

"The SLMM is currently conducting its inquiry into the incident off the Mullaitivu coast Tuesday where an LTTE ship was attacked and sunk by the Navy. Once the SLMM completes its inquiry, both parties will have talks.

"Some people are saying that we have to restart the war. Some of the opposition parties want this. But if the war restarts, the people most affected by it will be the sons and daughters of the poor. The economy of the country will fall even further. It is for these reasons that we are conducting the peace talks and trying to develop the economy.

"As a result of the war, nearly 100,000 people in the North have perished. Several have lost their limbs. More than 200,000 land mines have been buried and there are attempts to remove them.

"Through the current peace talks, we plan to find solutions to the political problems of not only the Tamil people but also the Muslim people as well."

 

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