Sinn Fein leader mediates between LTTE, Lanka | india | Hindustan Times
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Sinn Fein leader mediates between LTTE, Lanka

Leader of Irish political party Martin McGuinness has urged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to embark on the path to peace.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2006 12:03 IST

Martin McGuinness, the most visible face of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland after president Gerry Adams, has met leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and urged them to embark on the path to peace.

McGuinness this week flew in a military helicopter over the jungles of Sri Lanka into LTTE-controlled territory and sought to persuade the rebels to return to the negotiating table.

He said he was in Sri Lanka to try to persuade both sides to return to negotiations that collapsed earlier this year.

"I was able to share with the Tamil leadership the experiences of the Irish peace process," he said in a statement issued by Sinn Fein in Belfast.

"My core message was that both sides need to act decisively to prevent the downward spiral into all-out conflict. The reality is that, just as in Ireland, there can be no military victory and that the only alternative to endless conflict is dialogue, negotiations and accommodation," he added.

Reports say that McGuinness and Sinn Fein appear to be taking an interest in conflict resolution around the world.

His peace mission to Sri Lanka comes after a similar visit to meet Basque separatist leaders in Spain in June.

This was the second visit to Sri Lanka this year by McGuinness. During his January trip, he was not able to travel to the northern areas to meet representatives of the LTTE, but held talks with the president.

McGuinness, who is also Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, said he urged the LTTE leadership to re-engage in the stalled negotiations and pointed out the need to build a credible peace process as an alternative to the escalating conflict.

He said he asked the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers to take "decisive initiatives to build the peace process".