LTTE to discuss resumption of peace talks
COLOMBO: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will hold a crucial meeting on Monday to discuss the resumption of peace talks with the Sri Lankan government.
LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and key theoretician Anton Balasingham will be present at the group’s central committee meeting expected to take place in the Vanni region.
Six rounds of peace talks have been held between the separatist LTTE and the government to end 20 years of bloodshed that has claimed over 60,000 lives. A ceasefire between the two sides came into effect in February 2002.
But the seventh round of talks was cancelled last month by the LTTE which alleged non-implementation of the truce, exclusion of the rebels from a preparatory donor meeting in Washington and delays in resettling people internally displaced by the conflict. LTTE negotiator Balasingham, who lives in Britain and arrived in Sri Lanka Sunday, will hold discussions with Prabhakaran before summoning a special central committee meting on whether the time is right to resume talks.
Japan’s special peace envoy Yashushi Akashi and Norwegian facilitators Vidar Helgessen and Erik Solheim are to meet government leaders here and then visit the northern town of Kilinochchi for talks with the LTTE leaders.
After Monday’s meeting, the Tigers are expected to draft a formal response to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s five-page letter, urging them to recommence political dialogue. —IANS
Sri Lankan Tamil parties seek arms after killings
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Tamil political parties have asked for guns to protect themselves following a spate of slayings blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said Sunday.
The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) issued the call for weapons following the weekend killing of one of its regional political leaders in the northern peninsula of Jaffna, a party official said. Tamil parties who are opposed to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were disarmed in line with a truce the government entered into with the Tigers in February last year. However, rival Tamil groups have accused the Tigers of targeting opposition politicians and former military informants despite the ongoing truce. There was no immediate reaction from the government to the latest EPDP demand to take up arms in the Jaffna peninsula. The EPDP has two members in the 225-member national parliament. —AFP