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LTTE suggests dates for Geneva talks

The talks will focus on the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 13:42 IST

The LTTE has suggested February 15 and 16 or 21 and 22 as dates for the proposed talks with the Sri Lankan government in Geneva.

The talks will focus on the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), the Tamil daily Sudar Oli says quoting LTTE sources.

The LTTE has already announced the names of its delegates. The Tiger team will be headed by Velupillai Prabhakaran's political advisor, Anton Balasingham.

Though the talks will be on the implementation of the CFA, quintessentially a military issue, the LTTE's team consists of political leaders, with only Col Jeyam representing the military.

The fact that the LTTE's team is overwhelmingly political suggests that the rebel group will stress the political issues underlying the problems in implementing the CFA.

These are ticklish issues with wide ramifications for the Sri Lankan government, which is a coalition of disparate political parties.

The Sri Lankan government is yet to nominate its team or its leader.

It has also not indicated suitable dates other than saying that talks are likely in mid-February.

According to some political sources, Prof GL Peiris, head of the earlier government's peace delegation, may cross over from the opposition United National Party (UNP) to lead the delegation this time too.

But others say that this is not possible because Peiris is seen as a peacenik by the Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a key coalition partner in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

Peiris is also thought to be too close to the LTTE's chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham.

There are reports to the effect that Mahinda Samarasinghe, a recent defector from the UNP, will lead the delegation.

He is a liberal but at the same time he will not evoke the opposition of the JVP.

The other name mentioned is that Dr John Gunaratne, the non-political head of the government Peace Secretariat.

Gunaratne, a former ambassador, is a hands-on man who knows the details of the issue on hand.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 11:28 IST