SL wants LTTE to take up core issues
President Rajapaksa says LTTE must discuss political issues at the Oct 28 talks, reports PK Balachandran.india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 18:08 IST
The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that the LTTE should discuss the core political issues involved in the ethnic conflict at the talks, which he hopes will be held on October 28 and 29 in Switzerland.
But the LTTE has told the Norwegian peace brokers that there can be no decision on the agenda, the dates or the venue so long as the government continues its military offensive in the North-East.
The failure to agree on the ground rules for the talks, puts in question the possibility of talks taking place as scheduled at the end of the month.
The Sri Lankan President told the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donors' Conference, who are the international community in the Sri Lankan peace process here on Monday, that while the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) was an important issue, his government did not want any future talks to be limited to it.
Talks should not be to the exclusion of other basic issues crying for attention for the last 25 years, he stressed.
"The government does not want to be trapped in the CFA," said Keheliya Rambukwella, the government's defence spokesman, who briefed newspersons on the President's meeting with the Co-Chairs.
"Since the Thimpu talks (in the mid 1980s) talks with the LTTE have been on peripheral issues. The government thinks it is time the core political issues were taken up," Rambukwella said.
Delineating the core issues, he said that they related to the need to restore to the Tamil speaking North East democracy, the multiparty system, ethnic and religious pluralism and human rights.
They related to ending the hegemony of one group, the LTTE.
The LTTE could not be considered as the "sole representative" of the Tamil people, Rambukwella said.
There should also be an end to child recruitment to the combat units of the LTTE.
Once the talks proceed satisfactorily on these core issues, the issue of devolution of power and the de-commissioning of arms could be taken up, Rambukwella said.
On devolution, the government was thinking in terms of going beyond the 13th amendment of the constitution, which had set up a Provincial Council system in the country in 1988, the spokesman said.
Asked why the Co-Chairs did not issue a statement after the conclusion of the talks with the President, Rambukwella said that it was because the Co-Chairs now accepted the bona fides of the government and appreciated its stand point on the LTTE and the ethnic issue.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Hans Brattskar, took up the government's tentative agenda with the LTTE's political leadership in Kilinochchi on Tuesday.
But the political wing leader, SP Tamilselvan, told Brattskar that there could be no decision on the agenda, the dates or the venue, so long as the government continued its military offensive throughout the North East and building up for a major offensive in the North.
Tamilselvan pointed out that the government was not allowing the Nordic truce monitors to go to the forward defence lines in the North to see for themselves who was the aggressor.
He claimed that the LTTE had kept its word to the international community that it would not commit aggression since it had agreed to go for talks.