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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Peace talks stuck between Katunayake and Killinochchi: LTTE

[b]Peace talks stuck between Katunayake and Killinochchi: LTTE rejects Katunayake.[/b]

From our Colombo Correspondent

[b]Colombo, 09 September, ( [/b]The Tamil Tigers have dealt a blow to the peace process by rejecting the Norwegian proposal to hold talks at the Katunayake International Airport – a venue “determined” as neutral by the Norwegian facilitators. The Sri Lankan government yesterday approved the Norwegian proposal but the Tamil Tigers have rejected it. Tamil Tigers earlier insisted on Killinochchi as the venue for talks.

The Norwegian facilitators argued that this airport is used as a transit lounge by the Tamil Tigers when they fly in and out of Sri Lanka. But the LTTE Peace Secretariat said: “Katunayake international airport cannot be a venue for meaningful political discussions and the argument that it is secure for LTTE as a transit point to a location outside Sri Lanka, does not hold good when what is contemplated is a serious political discussion involving decisions at the top to trickle down to the armed forces for proper implementation of the CFA.”

S. P. Thamilselvan was quoted in the Tamil website said: “Direct talks need to be held in a free and fair environment, not in the domain of a single party exercising hegemony over the other.”

Two other points raised by Thamilselvan are : 1) it would not be feasible to conduct talks under stress and state of emergency and 2) the current political trend in the South on emphasizing the "unitary state," and the JVP and JHU joining the political mainstream tend to "nullify the efforts taken during the last three and a half years to build confidence".

Political observers noted that the Tamil Tigers are obstructing talks on reviewing the Ceasefire Agreement, first to prevent any changes that may come up through discussions, perhaps with the backing of the international community and second, to raise technical issues about the territory in which talks should be held. They maintained that the Norwegian argument of holding talks at the Katunayake International Airport is valid because if it is good enough for heads of the LTTE to embark and disembark and wait for considerable periods of time in the lounge for planes to arrive and depart then it should be good enough for them to sit down and hold talks.

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