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LTTE likely to attend Oslo truce talks

Tigers will attend talks on Jun 8 despite the EU ban, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 22:34 IST

The Tamil Tigers have indicated that they do not intend to break the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) even though the European Union has listed them as a terrorist organisation.

The LTTE's chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, has said that the outfit will attend the talks on truce monitoring to be held in Oslo on June 8 and 9.

He told The Morning Leader on Wednesday, that the Oslo meeting was on the "safety, security and functioning of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission." 

"I think the LTTE will participate in the proposed Oslo talks irrespective of the ban," Balasingham said, clearly indicating that the Tigers were interested in the safety of the Nordic truce monitors and the continuance of the CFA.

However, participation would be contingent on the Sri Lankan government's providing secure transport between Kilinochchi and Colombo for the LTTE's team for the talks, he said.

Interestingly, the Sri Lankan government is still to make up its mind on attending the meeting.

The decision on this lay with the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the Director General of the government Peace Secretariat, Dr Palitha Kohona.

Lankans take balanced view of EU ban

Both the majority Sinhalas and the minority Tamils have taken a balanced view of the EU's ban on the LTTE and the international donors' resolution on the peace process in the island.

The Tamil press has indeed described ban as being one-sided and detrimental to the Tamils.

But at the same time, it has highlighted the fact that the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donors Conference, representing the international community in the Sri Lankan peace process, have been even-handed, reading the riot act to both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government.

Instead of only complaining against the international community, the Tamil media have highlighted the fact that the Co-Chairs have asked the Sri Lankan government to make some "dramatic changes" in the political system to accommodate the legitimate demands of the Tamil and Muslim minorities.

The non-Tamil media in South Sri Lanka have not gloated over the success of Colombo's campaign to get the EU to ban the LTTE.

The ban is seen only as a means to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table to talk about devolution of power, albeit within a unitary state.

President Rajapaksa's statement is representative of the majority Sinhala community's thinking.

He had said on Tuesday that he would not go to war and that he was wedded to a peaceful, negotiated settlement.

The Island daily, which normally takes a hard anti-LTTE line, said in a front page edit on Wednesday, that the government should not make a bludgeon of the EU ban to beat the Tigers with, to the neglect of the problems of the minorities.

"It has to find a solution to the conflict acceptable to all the stakeholders, without succumbing to extremism in the North, the South or the East."

"Good governance consists in, inter alia, the ability of the state to win the hearts and minds of the minorities and enable them to live as equal citizens with dignity,"

"Let the EU ban make a new beginning," the paper said.