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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

Colombo negotiators walk into Tiger's trap

[b]Colombo negotiators walk into Tiger's trap[/b]

By Sesha Samarajiwa

At the press meeting following the first round of peace talks between the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which concluded in Geneva on 24 February, Colombo’s chief negotiator, Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and his team beamed smug smiles. In celebratory terms, the Sri Lankan state media and some private media reported that the first round of negotiations was a success. The LTTE, some of these analysts opine, did not want to be in Geneva but they were arm-twisted by the international community to be there. Reporters gave a run down of the rounds which started with aggressive punches by both sides but which, over the course of the two days, turned more conciliatory.

They comment on the compromises made and the upbeat tone on which the first round of negotiations ended. They read a lot of positive meanings into chief LTTE negotiator Anton Balasingham’s changing body language and facial expressions. The Tiger negotiator, we are told, wore a grim countenance at the outset, not looking his counterpart in the eye and returning De Silva’s beaming smile with a wan one and offering a lukewarm handshake. But at the end of proceedings, a more relaxed Balasingham was himself sporting a warmer smile and his team mates exchanged less frosty handshakes with the opposition than they did at the outset.

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