Lanka ready for talks in Geneva
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Lanka ready for talks in Geneva

Norwegian peace envoy is likely to convey to the LTTE the new venue for talks, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:56 IST

Geneva is likely to emerge as a compromise venue for the first round of talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the rebel LTTE, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.

President Mahinda Rajapakse had informally said that he was ready to accept Geneva as the venue to break the deadlock on the issue.

Norwegian Peace Envoy and International Development Minister Erik Solheim is expected convey this new proposal to the LTTE when he meets their chief Velupillai Prabhakaran at Kilinochchi on January 25.

Prior to that, Solheim would be ascertaining Sri Lanka's stand on the issue when he meets President Rajapakse in Colombo. Solheim begins his Sri Lankan visit on Monday.

Till now, the LTTE has been insisting that the talks should begin only in Oslo. The Sri Lankan Government, on the other hand, wants to settle for an Asian venue.

It was President Rajapakse who had raised the issue of the venue first, forcing the LTTE to take an opposite view. But, he has been modifying his stand over time, unlike the LTTE.

In the beginning, Rajapakse had said that the talks could be held only in Sri Lanka, a suggestion which was immediately rejected by the LTTE. Then he said that the venue could be an Asian country.

More recently, he said that it could be an African country, and the rumour was that he was thinking of South Africa.

His latest stand is that talks in Oslo will be alright provided the first round is held elsewhere. He has said that Japan could be the venue and urged the LTTE to accept it.

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 21:30 IST