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Terminally ill Balasingham laments fate of Tamils

Balasingham confirmed he has terminal cancer but that it is minor compared to the immense suffering of Sri Lanka's minority Tamils.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 18:51 IST

Tamil Tiger peace negotiator Anton Balasingham has confirmed he has terminal cancer but that it is "minor" compared to the "immense suffering" of Sri Lanka's minority Tamils, a report said on Thursday.

The London-based Anton Balasingham, 68, who was diagnosed with bile duct cancer last week, also said he was sad that his illness prevented him from contributing to the cause of minority Tamils at home.

"It is an unfortunate personal tragedy," Balasingham said of his illness.

"When compared to the vast ocean of the collective tragedy faced by my people, my illness is merely a pebble," he was quoted as saying by the pro-rebel website.

"I am deeply sad that I am crippled by this illness, unable to contribute anything substantial towards the alleviation of the immense suffering and oppression of my people."

The chief editor of the Tamil newspapers Sudar Oli and Uthayan, Nadesapillai Vithyatharan, met with Balasingham in London last week and said he had come to terms with his condition.

"He is in pain but has not lost his sense of humour. He joked that only his brain and the transplanted kidney are not affected by the cancer," Vithyatharan said.

Sri Lanka's top peace broker Erik Solheim is due to visit Balasingham in London early next month.

Balasingham has led negotiations with the Sri Lankan government since a new series of face-to-face talks began in September 2002, but he was absent from a meeting in Geneva last month because of failing health.

First Published: Nov 23, 2006 18:51 IST