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Lanka to talk about 'meaningful truce'

The talks between Govt and the LTTE is scheduled to take place on Feb 22 and 23, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 19:33 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government would talk about a "meaningful ceasefire" at the negotiations with the LTTE in Geneva on February 22 and 23, cabinet spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said in Colombo on Thursday.

Yapa told newspersons that there was a need to talk of a meaningful ceasefire because there had been 5464 violations by the LTTE between the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) on February 22, 2002 and February 4, 2006.

Among these, there were 562 killings, the spokesman said.

The dead included 92 Sri Lanka Army personnel, 38 naval personnel, 34 policemen, 10 others from the uniformed services and 388 civilians.

There were 117 attempted murders, 620 abductions, 2199 cases of forcible conscription, 141 cases of firing, 207 hostile acts against civilians, and 14 offensive naval actions.

Such violations must stop in order to create the necessary conditions for a return to democracy, the spokesman said.

Asked if the government's negotiators would seek an amendment or revision of the CFA even in the teeth of opposition from the LTTE, Yapa said that the matters to be taken up at the talks would be decided by the negotiating team.

The first task was to begin the talks, he stressed.

Yapa said that the agenda for the talks was being worked out, with the Norwegian peace facilitators acting as the go-between.

Steering Committee formed

The spokesman said that the government had formed a Steering Committee on Peace Building (SCPB), which would coordinate the work of groups and agencies involved in the peace process including the negotiating team.

The committee was for the "long term", he added.

The 25 to 30 strong committee is headed by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and includes six cabinet ministers, a Deputy Minister, leaders of the ruling coalition and like-minded parties, six Permanent Secretaries, officials of Peace Secretariat, and other civil and military personnel.

The committee had already met twice, the spokesman said.

Asked if the opposition parties would also be involved in the committee, he said that that was a "different issue".

However, some leading lights of the former United National Front government like Chief negotiator Prof GL Peiris and Defence Secretary Austin Fernando, had participated in a workshop organized for the benefit of the negotiating team here on February 7 and 8.

The spokesman said that the negotiating team, to be led by cabinet minister Nimal Sripala de Silva, will include two other cabinet ministers, Jayaraj Fernandopulle and Rohitha Bogollogama.

All three were leading lawyers besides being experienced politicians, he added.

The names of the officials and other supporting staff of the negotiating team would be announced by February 21, the spokesman said.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 17:59 IST