Lanka, LTTE talks now on April 24, 25
The talks, earlier scheduled for April 19-21, have been postponed due to a dispute between the Govt and the LTTE.india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 01:11 IST
The second round of peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE will be held in Geneva on April 24 and 25, Norway, the country facilitating the talks, announced on Friday.
Originally, the talks were to be held between April 19 and 21.
The talks have been postponed due to a dispute between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE over the transport of the LTTE's Eastern commanders from one sector to another.
The LTTE protested against the withdrawal of air transport given by the government since the peace process began in February 2002.
It rejected the government's alternative offer of transport by Sri Lankan naval ships.
The LTTE then threatened to use its own vessels, with its own armed escort, in violation of the ceasefire agreement.
Finally, anxious to break the deadlock and get the two parties to meet in Geneva, the Scandinavian truce monitors proposed that a civilian vessel be used.
And for the safety and security of the LTTE men, the monitors offered to be on board themselves. Their chief, Major General Ulf Henricsson, volunteered to be on board during the journey back and forth.
This was accepted by both the parties.
Since the controversy had consumed valuable time, and the LTTE's leadership did not have enough time for consultations ahead of the peace talks, the LTTE asked Norway to fix a fresh date for the talks.
Earlier, the Norwegians had defused another controversy threatening the talks.
The LTTE had doubted the safety of its delegation at the Colombo international airport. It had asked the Norwegians to arrange for a special sea plane to void going through Colombo.
After tough negotiations, chief Norwegian peace facilitator Erik Solheim announced that the Sri Lankan President had assured full security, and that the LTTE had agreed to go via Colombo.
Informed Tamil source said that, as usual, the LTTE's delegation would be flown by a Sri Lankan Air Force chopper between Kilinochchi in the Wanni and Colombo.
The source also said that the LTTE had no animosity towards the Sri Lankan Air Force.
"In recent times, the contradiction has been with the Sri Lankan Navy and the Army and not the Air Force," the source said, pointing out to the rash of attacks against these two wings of the Sri Lankan armed forces.
No Air Force installation or personnel had been attacked.