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SL allows LTTE to use private copter

SL Govt has reportedly allowed LTTE to use a private copter to transport its top leaders, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 00:38 IST

In an effort to break the deadlock on the transportation issue and get the second round of talks in Geneva going, the Sri Lankan government has reportedly allowed the LTTE to use a private helicopter to transport its senior commanders from one sector to another for consultations before the Geneva peace talks.

The Sinhala language service of the BBC on Monday quoted Rohitha Bogollagama, one of the members of the government's negotiating team as saying that the Norwegian peace brokers had been told that they could arrange a private chopper for this purpose.

This is a via media in as much as the LTTE had wanted a Sri Lankan Air Force chopper, as per past practice, and the government had said that it had no obligation to give Air Force chopper rides to the LTTE.

The government then said that it would offer a ride in a Sri Lankan naval ship. But the LTTE would have nothing to do with the Navy, as it had had a very bad relationship with it since the Ceasefire Agreement was signed in February 2002.

The LTTE seemed to be allergic even to a naval escort for a civilian ship that the government said it could use.

The LTTE then said that it was suspending its participation in the Geneva talks, scheduled to be held on April 24 and 25.

The deadlock brought the international community in. The Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao had a meeting with the Head of the government Peace Secretariat, Dr Palitha Kohona, on Monday.

And the new Norwegian Peace Envoy, Jon Hanssen Bauer, would be in Sri Lanka on Tuesday, to talk to the Sri Lankan government leaders and the political leadership of the LTTE to get to a final and firm decision on the transportation issue and get the talks in Geneva going.

Political circles expect the second round of the talks to be held before the end of April, if not on April 24 and 25.

First Published: Apr 18, 2006 00:38 IST