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LTTE pulls out of peace talks indefinitely

LTTE has said that the Govt should stop attacking Tamil people if it wants talks to resume, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 15:14 IST

It is now official. The LTTE has told the Norwegian peace brokers that it will not be attending the second round of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government, scheduled to be held in Geneva on April 24 and 25.

According to the pro-rebel website Political Wing leader SP Tamilselvan told the Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen Bauer in Kilinochchi on Thursday, that the LTTE would not go for talks with the government until the latter had stopped attacking its cadres and the Tamil people

He added that the Tigers should be given "100 per cent" guarantee of security to Eastern Commanders wanting to go to the North for consultations with their leadership ahead of any peace negotiations.

No return to war, though

To be sure, Tamilselvan did not say that his organization was withdrawing from the talks process forever.

There was no threat to resume hostilities.

The LTTE's commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), the talks process, and indeed the peace process as such, was reiterated.

All that the LTTE wants now, is the restoration of "normalcy" before talks.

LTTE's complaints

Bauer had told Tamilselvan that he was appealing to both the government and the LTTE to stop the violence and recrimination and come to the negotiating table as planned on April 24.

But Tamilselvan told him that the government was entirely responsible for the present situation.

It had stepped up its violent activities after Geneva I in February, he said.

"Tamil nationalists, intellectuals and ordinary people are being killed by the Tamil paramilitaries and the Sri Lankan armed forces," he said, referring to the killings in Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Puthur (in Jaffna).

The LTTE's political commissar said that the Tamil people were rising against such injustice and that it would be difficult for the LTTE to control them.

He asked Bauer to tell the Sri Lankan government to bring the situation under control and bring back normalcy before going for talks with the LTTE.

Normalcy could be restored only if Bauer made suitable efforts at Colombo, he added.

Refutes govt's contention on naval escort

Referring to the transport issue, Tamilselvan said that it was important for the LTTE to assure its Eastern Commanders "100 per cent" security when they travelled between the East and the North, where the outfit's headquarters were located.

He refuted the Sri Lankan government's contention that there was an agreement to let the Sri Lankan Navy escort the civilian vessel, which was to ferry the Commanders.

According to him, the Scandinavian truce monitors had verbally agreed that there would be no monitoring of the civilian vessel by the Navy.

But when the Commanders were about to board at the Mullaitivu jetty, the Sri Lankan Navy was present in the vicinity, and was passing instructions to the crew of the civilian vessel.

This was contrary to the verbal agreement with the monitors, Tamilselvan pointed out.

Doubts motive behind offer of private chopper

On the government's offer of a private civilian helicopter as an alternative to sea transport, Tamilselvan said that the LTTE suspected the motive behind the offer.

He also said that there were practical difficulties in making use of a chopper.

Tamilselvan said that it was very important for the LTTE to consult its Eastern Commanders before any talks with the Sri Lankan government.

He wondered why so many hurdles were being put on the path of the LTTE in regard to these consultations, when the Sri Lankan President was freely holding all-party meetings, workshops and other consultations ahead of the talks.

The Norwegian Peace Envoy, Bauer, said that he would convey the LTTE's contentions to the Sri Lankan government.

Govt says chopper offer was conditional

On Wednesday, the Sri Lankan government said that its offer of a private chopper was not unconditional.

"It is not a blank cheque. It is only for 72 hours," said government spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella.

Continuation of shadow war

Much needs to be done by both the government and the LTTE, before the two sides meet at a table again.

What is in store for Sri Lanka, at least in the near term, is the continuation of the current "shadow war".

The "shadow war" will be fought between the LTTE, the government forces, the "Tamil paramilitaries" and other shadowy groups called the "people".

It will be marked by sporadic killings, assassinations, and bomb and mine blasts.

First Published: Apr 20, 2006 13:45 IST