|Friday, 5 September 2003|
New structure for peace talks
by Manjula Fernando and Rajmi Manatunga
The government is contemplating a more development-oriented structure for the negotiating table once peace talks resume.
The talks are expected to begin after the LTTE hands over its counter-proposals for the North East interim administration.
Government Chief Negotiator Prof. G.L.Peiris told the weekly Cabinet press briefing yesterday that several venues are available to hold the next round of talks. The Italian government, the chairman of the European Union, has also made an offer in this regard. Prof. Peiris said that development projects continued in the North-East although peace talks were last held in April this year.
Nevertheless, the government believes the LTTE should be always open for consultations concerning major development projects. "Decisions on prioritising projects and allocation of funds should not be taken unilaterally," he said.
"The focal point of the negotiations, at resumption would inevitably be political issues but we think it is vital to emphasise economic and development issues when the talks go on. It should be an integral part of the negotiations," the chief negotiator said. Prof.Peiris said the Government believes there should be Muslim representation at the final discussions on the proposed North-East administration and if the LTTE views differ, such differences should be resolved through direct dialogue.
"There will surely be a gap between the two sets of proposals from the government and the Tigers. But these differences could be resolved at the direct talks expected to resume soon afterwards," Prof. Peiris commented.
Decisive meeting in Colombo
Japanese Special envoy Yasushi Akashi will hold a special meeting in Colombo with Government leaders, donors and multilateral organisations to review the progress made after the Tokyo conference where US$ 4.5 billion was pledged for development.
Akashi will be in Sri Lanka from September 11 to 16. The LTTE will also be invited by the Japanese government to take part in this meeting on September 12 at the Colombo Hilton.
Akashi will visit Kilinochchi to meet LTTE leaders.
He will then proceed to Ampara and Kalmunai to discuss Eastern Muslims' issues and their views on the proposed administrative structure.
Just after his departure, Norwegian Special Envoy Eric Solheim and Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen will arrive in Colombo to make a fresh bid to revive the peace talks.
Produced by Lake House