Akashi meets with Sri Lanka prime minister+
Thu October 28, 2004 10:20 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Oct. 28 (Kyodo) Japan's special peace envoy for Sri Lanka - , Yasushi Akashi, on Thursday met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse as the Tamil Tigers asserted their demand for a separate state has not been abandoned. Akashi arrived on Wednesday for a seven-day visit, his eighth mission to Sri Lanka - since Tokyo became a key player in assisting the ending of the island's two-decade-long civil war.
Separately, Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, says in a new book that a joint statement issued following talks between the LTTE and the Sri Lanka - government in December 2002 has been wrongly interpreted.
''The Liberation Tigers decision to explore federalism...does not entail an unconditional abandonment of the Tamils' right to self-determination and secession,'' he said in his new book, ''War and Peace'' posted on the pro-LTTE TamilNet website.
Government spokesman Mangala Samaraweera declined to comment, saying he had not read Balasingham's book.
''All I can say is that we have been told by (peace broker) Norway as well as other European nations that the LTTE accepts the Oslo declaration,'' Samaraweera told reporters Thursday.
Following the Oslo talks between the Sri Lanka - government and the LTTE in December 2002, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said that ''the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on internal self-self determination in areas of historical habitation of Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka - .''
This was widely hailed as the expression of willingness of the LTTE for a federal solution to the long-festering ethnic problem and has since been presented as the ''Oslo Declaration.''
But Balasingham's book says there is no such declaration.
''There was not any specific proclamation titled the 'Oslo Declaration,''' Balasingham wrote. The decision to explore federalism was included in the record of decisions at the Oslo talks and signed by the chief negotiators of both delegations and the head of the Norwegian facilitating team.''
Diplomats did not rule out the possibility of Akashi testing the waters on this issue during a meeting with the LTTE leader in rebel-held Kilinochchi next week.
''It's sensitive,'' said an Asian diplomat on condition of anonymity. ''But Akashi may take it up if there's an opening during the talks with the head of the LTTE's political wing.''
Published: Thu Oct 28 11:33:17 EDT 2004