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JVP will never quit UPFA government, Kadirgamar assures to BBC

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 23 March 2005, 13:19 GMT]
Throwing his weight fully behind the radical Sinhala nationalistic Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a major coalition in the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance government, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, in a live television interview with the BBC on Tuesday said that the JVP is for the negotiated political settlement with the LTTE and assured that it would never quit the ruling coalition in this regard.

HARDtalk with Kadirgamar"Irrespective of what they [the JVP] may say to Reuters or anybody else, they have told me very clearly that they have no intention of breaking with the Government at all," said Mr. Kadirgamar, who appeared in BBC Hardtalk interview on Tuesday in a reply to a question posed by Hardtalk host Ms. Zeinab Badawi.

"They [the JVP] will take contrary position where they feel they ought to, because they are coalition partners and they have their own philosophy... The main point is that they are for a negotiated political settlement that was thrashed out long time ago," an exhausted Kadirgamar said, lamenting that "they are misrepresented often, they are not against peace at all. They are for peace."

He however, played down the question as to how the JVP, which is opposing to a joint mechanism for humanitarian needs, could agree to a lasting peaceful solution with the LTTE based on greater devolution of powers.

Although Mr. Kadirgamar said that everybody in the country bar "a few lunatics" wanted to see a peaceful solution, a negotiated settlement to this problem, he did not elabourate who these lunatics are.

HARDtalk with KadirgamarWhen pointed out that the donor community, including the European Union, has called for a suitable joint mechanism for the equitable post-tsunami aid distribution, he said "it doesn't require EU to tell us that".

"Before you get to the EU, the Sri Lankan Government is saying that! Sri Lankan government is saying to the LTTE, let's get together and have a joint mechanism. It is being worked on, drafts are being exchanged, the LTTE people have gone off to Europe now on a mission of some kind," he said.

Claiming that the he "is solidly behind President Kumaratunga" for the practical and necessary working arrangement with the LTTE, he said it was equally important to ensure that the some of these provisions "do not give unfair advantage over Muslims for instance, or the Sinhalese for instance".

Remarks by Mr. Kadirgamar, who has been reportedly warned by the President not to have any meeting with the JVP leaders without her knowledge, have come at a time when President Kumaratunga going all out against the JVP, especially in public stages. It was barely a month ago that she threw an open challenge, demanding the JVP to quit the government if wanted without making empty threats.

HARDtalk with KadirgamarMr. Kadirgamar, was virtually cornered in more than one occasion when he found it difficult to answer factually some of the questions posed to him by the interviewer Ms. Zeinab Badawi, quipping them as "mere accusations".

Commenting on the Kofi Annan's visit to Sri Lanka and the government's decision to bar him from visiting the tsunami-hit Wanni region, he said that "the Sri Lankan government discussed with Mr. Kofi Annan and pointed out to him that his visit to the particular place he wanted to go to, which is the headquarters of the LTTE chief, will become a publicity gimmick".

When Ms. Zeinab Badawi pointed out that the government has turned a humanitarian issue into political one, he said "that humanitarian visit was made to other areas and he was offered to visit to Jaffna".

Asked whether the government has lost a rare opportunity to convert Mr. Annan's trip into a "major step towards confidence building measure between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE", Mr. Kadirgamar replied on the negative saying that "I don't think it is a question of confidence building at all, because the LTTE is claiming that it is their defacto separate state".

When pointed out that the LTTE has claimed to be ready to settle for a regional autonomy, Mr. Kadirgamar said that "I have not seen any irrefutable evidence of that kind".

Mr. Kadirgamar who accused the LTTE saying that it has not done anything to work towards the understanding reached in December 2002 in Oslo with the government of Sri Lanka to explore a solution based on Federal structure, failed miserably in defending the government - to prove that it has done something to take advantage over the LTTE in this regard.

To a question posed by Badawi, whether the government was using the awful tragedy of tsunami in some way or the other to perpetuate the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers, referring to allegations of SLA support to renegade commander Karuna's group, Mr. Kadirgamar said that "clear instructions have been given by President Kumaratunga to the Army, and she can only give instructions to the top brass, that there has to be no - I repeat no - and I empahasize no - assistance whatsoever given to anybody to start fighting with the LTTE or anybody else in that area."

The LTTE has gone on record both in Sri Lanka and in Europe that it has accepted a proposal drafted by the Norwegian facilitators for a joint mechanism, but GoSL is yet to respond.

Related Articles:
01.11.01   Tough time on Hard Talk

External Links:
BBC: HARDtalk Interview with Lakshman Kadirgamar


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