The Lanka Academic

VOL. 6, NO. 307


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Sri Lanka trains for tough talks with Tamil Tigers
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, February 7th, 2006, 10:00 am. The government's peace team on Tuesday began training in negotiation skills as they braced for tough talks with the Tamil Tiger rebels set for Feb. 22, officials said.

Two top conflict experts from the U.S.-based Harvard Negotiation Project or HNP, will conduct the four-day training program with the government's main negotiating team and the back-up team, officials involved in the process said, on condition of anonymity.

The mission of the Harvard Negotiation Project _ created in 1979 _ is to improve the theory, teaching, and practice of negotiation and dispute resolution, so that people can deal more constructively with conflicts ranging from the interpersonal to the international.

The government delegation led by Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva will be briefed on the fundamentals of negotiations during the round table interactive sessions, the officials said.

The basics of federalism, confederalism, unitary and united will also be addressed, they said, adding that a knowledge base will be created to support the international team by local professionals in the field.

Special attention will also be paid to the provisions of the cease-fire agreement, its violations and sections that need strengthening.

This is the first time a Sri Lankan delegation has been professionally trained in negotiations ahead of talks with the Tamil rebels.

The training takes place a day after Norwegian peace brokers clinched a deal on a date to resume talks that is to focus on strengthening a fragile cease-fire between the two parties.

The two-day discussions will commence exactly four years after the parties signed the truce agreement, said Norway's Foreign Ministry.

"The parties are taking a small but very significant step towards putting the peace process back on a positive track. And we expect the negotiations to be tough," said Erik Solheim, Norway's minister of international development.

Solheim, who played a pivotal role in brokering the Feb. 22, 2002 truce, made the announcement after talks with the Tiger's chief negotiator Anton Balasingham in London on Monday.

"It is very positive that the parties have agreed to meet at high level to discuss how to improve the serious security situation," he said.

The cease-fire had faced its toughest test in recent months amid a wave of violence that reached unprecedented heights in December killing more than 100 people, at least 80 of them were security forces. European monitors had warned that if the violence did'nt stop, the possibility of the island slipping back to war was not far off.

It was in this backdrop that Solheim made a breakthrough with the parties last month, when they agreed to resume negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland after a deadlock of nearly three years.

"The parties have chosen Geneva for their meeting because of the very supportive role Switzerland has always played in the peace process," Solheim said.

The parties had requested Norway to facilitate the meeting led by Solheim, and will include Norway's ambassador to Colombo Hans Brattskar and former deputy foreign minister Vidar Helgesen. Monitoring chief Hagrup Haukland will also participate in the meeting.

The violence in Sri Lanka has dropped significantly after the two sides agreed to resume talks, although sporadic incidents continue.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE, began fighting in 1983 to carve out an independent homeland for the island's 3.2 million Tamil minority, who claim discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. The fighting killed nearly 65,000 before Norway brokered a cease-fire in February 2002. But subsequent peace talks collapsed in April 2003 amid rebel demands for wide autonomy in the Tamil-dominated north and east.

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Published: Tue Feb 7 00:12:19 EST 2006

LTTE not to discuss political solution at Geneva
IRNA, february 7. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers said they will not discuss political solution to the island's ethnic conflict during the upcoming talks with Sri Lankan government in Geneva.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said Tuesday the two-day talks starting on February 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, would be exclusively to discuss ways of strengthening the truce that went into effect from February 23, 2002, but remains to be fully implemented by both sides.

"The LTTE is not prepared to discuss modifications to the cease-fire or to push the cease-fire aside and waste time talking about a political solution," the Tigers said in an editorial in their official organ 'Vuduthalaippulikal'. More... Discuss this story
Published: Tue Feb 7 10:01:43 EST 2006 Back to the top

Tamil Tiger rebels confirm participation of six-member delegation at Geneva talks
Associated Press, Tue February 7, 2006 06:39 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Tamil Tiger rebels said Tuesday they will send six delegates to this month's peace talks in Geneva aimed at enforcing a 2002 cease-fire between the government and guerrillas.

Daya Master, spokesman for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, said the rebel delegation will be led by the group's London-based chief negotiator Anton Balasingham and assisted by S. P. Thamilselvan, the LTTE's political head.

Representatives from the Sri Lankan government and separatist rebels are scheduled to meet in Geneva Feb. 22-23 to discuss how to improve the implementation of the 2002 cease-fire that was intended to end nearly two decades of war.

Peace talks broke down in April 2003 over the rebels' demands for greater autonomy in the north and east, and sporadic violence has continued across the island ever since. A spike in unrest leading to the deaths of at least 150 people in the past two months has put the truce under yet more strain.

The Geneva talks will focus on LTTE demands that the government disarm other rebel factions whom the Tamil Tigers blame for the latest unrest.

The other members of the delegation include Jeyam, a battle-hardened rebel officer; B. Nadesan, the chief of the LTTE police force; and Ilanthirayan, a former political head in the restive eastern Batticaloa region. Some rebels use only one name.

Balasingham's Australian wife, Adele, will be the secretary. She held the same a role at earlier peace talks.

The government has already named Nimal Siripala de Silva, a senior minister and lawyer, to head its delegation, but other members of the team have yet to be named.

``It is very positive that the parties have agreed to meet at a high level to discuss how to improve the serious security situation,'' Eric Solheim, a Norwegian peace envoy, said in a statement Tuesday.

Solheim will lead a Norwegian delegation at the talks, and will be aided by Norway's Ambassador in Colombo, Hans Brattskar, and former Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen.

The rebels began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for the country's Tamil minority, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. More than 65,000 people died in the war before Norway brokered the 2002 cease-fire.

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Published: Tue Feb 7 08:20:08 EST 2006 Back to the top

Some kids suffering in Sri Lankan children's homes, international agency says
Associated Press, Tue February 7, 2006 05:41 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Some orphans and other children living in Sri Lankan children's homes are forced to sleep on floors, have no place to play, suffer physical abuse, and receive no proper counseling, an international children's agency said in a damning report released Tuesday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka government, Tamil Tiger rebel talks set for Feb. 22-23
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, February 6th, 2006 9:15 pm. The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels have agreed to resume face-to-face talks on Feb... Back to the top

Sri Lanka beats South Africa by 76 runs to reach tri-series final
Associated Press, Tue February 7, 2006 02:32 EST . HOBART, Australia (AP) - Malinga Bandara took four wickets Tuesday to bowl Sri Lanka to a 76-run win over South Africa and into a place opposite Australia in the tri-series limited overs cricket finals... Back to the top

Karuna warns of renouncing Ceasefire with Prabhakaran's Vanni faction
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, February 6, 2006, 7.26 p.m.. The TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) which is the political body of the Karuna faction today urged the international community to be vigilant with the LTTE and not to fall prey to the Organization's scams... Back to the top

Suspected Tamil Tigers abduct a Tamil civilian in restive eastern Sri Lanka
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI, Associated Press, Mon February 6, 2006 02:59 EST . Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels abducted an ethnic minority Tamil civilian from his home in Sri Lanka's restive east, the Defense Ministry said Monday, the latest in a spate of disappearances across the country... Back to the top

COLOMBO DIARY In the past four years, the international donor community has pledged billions of dollars to Sri Lanka with the aim of promoting peace and economic reform. And a lot of it has already gone into the country's kitty. Yet, aid has not met its objectives. The necessary preconditions of peace still do not exist and Sri Lanka continues to be perched precariously on the edge of war. Why donors failed to bring peace to Sri Lanka, Monday, February 6, 2006|18:03 IST . COLOMBO DIARY In the past four years, the international donor community has pledged billions of dollars to Sri Lanka with the aim of promoting peace and economic reform... Back to the top

Demand for rights on agenda of Sri Lanka talks, 06 February 2006. COLOMBO, Feb 5, 2006 (AFP) - Amnesty International Sunday asked Sri Lanka's warring parties to thrash out human rights issues during crucial talks this month to stem a wave of killings, abductions, and child recruitment... Back to the top

Peace talks regarding Sri Lanka 's rebels take place in London
Associated Press, Mon February 6, 2006 09:03 EST . LONDON (AP) _ A Norwegian peace envoy and the chief negotiator for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels met privately in London on Monday, an official said... Back to the top

East S.Lanka tense, Norway tries to save peace bid, Mon 6th Feb 09:00GMT. Protesters burned barricades at Tamil Tiger checkpoints in east Sri Lanka on Monday and tsunami aid workers stayed inside as peace broker Norway tried again to patch up a shaky peace process and arrange crunch talks... Back to the top

Security fears hurting Sri Lanka growth - World Bank, Feb 6, 2006. COLOMBO (Reuters) - Security fears in Sri Lanka are slowing investment which in turn will mean the island economy will grow around 4-6 percent in 2006 rather than the 8 percent the government is targeting, the World Bank said on Monday... Back to the top

US says it will create ``surprises'' in Under 19 cricket World Cup
Associated Press, Mon February 6, 2006 00:27 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The United States, still a novice in world cricket, says it is capable of creating ``surprises'' even against formidable opponents when it begins its Under 19 World Cup campaign on Monday... Back to the top

LTTE band of ‘murderous cutthroats’-Opinion, Feb 6. Prof P Ramasamy appears to suggest that “indiscriminate killings will be brought to end” if the international community accepts that the LTTE should are allowed to rule over the north and east of Sri Lanka... Back to the top

LTTE keen on talks to fix Sri Lankan Govt, Mon 6th Feb 09:00GMT. Contrary to the general impression that the LTTE is trying to find excuses to avoid going for talks with the Sri Lankan government, the rebel outfit is actually quite keen on having the talks, says a Tamil MP who met the LTTE's political leadership in Kilinochchi on Saturday... Back to the top

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