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

Sri Lankan peace talks in doubt; security for presidential..

[b]Sri Lankan peace talks in doubt; security for presidential candidate increased[/b]

From our Colombo Correspondent

[b]Colombo, 24 August, ( [/b]Political circles in Colombo are now doubtful whether the talks between the Government and the LTTE will take place shortly as assured by the Norwegian embassy earlier.

Minister Mangala Samaraweeera told the media yesterday that the story of the LTTE coming to talks was “mere speculation”. Earlier Dr. John Gooneratne, the Deputy Head of the Peace Secretariat, said that there has been no official confirmation from the LTTE that they would come to talks.

Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Petersen, flew from Colombo to London to meet Anton Balasingham to arrange talks in the wake of the killing of Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar by the LTTE. Norwegians were under mounting pressure from, international and national sources to take some meaningful action to justify their role as a peace-maker.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga, in a national broadcast accused the LTTE of killing her foreign minister and threatening to kill her other Tamil Cabinet colleague, Douglas Devananda. She also wrote a letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Bondevik, urging that the Cease Fire Agreement be revised. After the meeting with Anton Balasingham in London, the Norwegian embassy in Colombo told the media that talks on revising the Cease Fire Agreement would begin within “two weeks.” Tamil websites too reported Anton Balasingham agreeing to open talks on revising the Cease Fire Agreement.

But political circles are now not certain whether the talks would begin as promised by the Norwegians. “It looks as if the talks had failed even before it could begin,” said one commentator. “This could mean that the Norwegians were either trying to pull wool over the eyes of the international community and the people to impress that they were still in charge of the peace process or that the LTTE has let the Norwegians down. In either case it is a slap in the face of Norwegian diplomacy,” he added.

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