|Tuesday, 24 September 2002|
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has asserted that all discussions connected to the peace process will be conducted in good faith and with transparency.
"There will be no secret pacts, no under- the -table transaction, no hanky-panky," the premier told the Asia Society during his visit to the US.
The premier noted that the government came to power on a mandate for peace. Two major steps had been taken to implement it.
"In February we agreed upon a ceasefire and since then we have agreed to talks about peace and the conditions for peace. These discussions are taking place in Thailand. They are basically talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the representatives of the LTTE facilitated by Norway, acting in consultation with the international community, supported by several countries," he said.
"We hope that this will be the beginning of a process that will resolve our national trauma". There have been certain criticisms of these efforts, some well motivated, which need to be addressed. Some others criticise it for political advantage "even at the cost of life and the blood of our people".
He maintained that after two decades of conflict, it was not easy to establish faith or build confidence but that the government had to make a serious beginning.
"To do so we called for a facilitator since on all previous occasions the two sides by themselves could not sustain the negotiation process," he added.
"Making peace has not been a comfortable path and is often a dangerous activity. This is the experience of other nations."
Recounting the Sri Lankan experience of the past several years, the premier noted that the cost of war had reduced Sri Lanka to a nation of endemic poverty.
The Premier stressed that the endless cycle of conflict fuelled by political ambition and greed was eroding morality and values long cherished in the country.
"It was no exaggeration to say that further prolongation of war might well have destroyed our democracy. This has happened in other countries."
Produced by Lake House