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Akashi to avoid LTTE during visit

The Japanese Special Peace Envoy, Yasushi Akashi, who is currently on his 14 th visit to Sri Lanka to promote a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict in the island, will not be visiting the LTTE's headquarters in Kilinochchi, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: Jun 06, 2007 17:39 IST
PK Balachandran

The Japanese Special Peace Envoy, Yasushi Akashi, who is currently on his 14 th visit to Sri Lanka to promote a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict in the island, will not be visiting the LTTE's headquarters in Kilinochchi.

"He will not be going to Kilinochchi but would see the refugee rehabilitation projects in Vakarai (in East Sri Lanka)," said the Defence Spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella in Colombo on Wednesaday.

Asked if Akashi "desired" to go to Kilinochchi, Rambukwella retorted: " I do not know about his desires!"

Akashi met the Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Dr.Palitha Kohona.

The Japanese envoy has been an indefatigable campaigner for peace, and the establishment of peace through economic development. But all his projects had come to a naught because of the intransigence of the LTTE and pressures on successive Sri Lankan governments from vocal Sinhala nationalist elements.

Successive Sri Lankan governments and the LTTE have been equally wary about Japan's "cheque book diplomacy" - dangling the economic development carrot to get them to give up their competing ethnic nationalisms and go for a compromise solution within a united Sri Lanka.

During one of Akashi's visits to the LTTE's headquarters, the LTTE chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had presented him with a plaque showing the map of an independent Tamil Eelam, which covered a third of the Sri Lankan land mass and two thirds of its coastline.

Japan is part of the co-chairs of the June 2003 Aid Sri Lankan conference in Tokyo, which had resolved to give a multi-billion dollar economic aid package to Sri Lanka if the peace process made progress. But hopes of peace have remained unfulfilled.