The Lanka Academic

 
FEBRUARY 21, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 6, NO. 321

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Swiss tighten security at talk's venue
Saman Weragoda in Colombo, SLT 10.45 A.M Wednesday 22 February 2006. The Security at the venue where the government and the LTTE will have the Ceasefire talks will be tighten and will be more than what one could expect Swiss officials told the Lanka Academic. The official warned '' Let me warn all journalists that the security will be tighten and hard. So please be ready for tough checks'' The official said no media would be given direct access to the venue and they would all have to travel in one bus to Chateau de Bossey where the talks will be held. The official said the talks would begin with opening statement by the Norwegians and the host, Switzerland.
Published: Tue Feb 21 23:52:07 EST 2006

Sri Lanka government, Tamil Tiger rebels brace to talk tough at truce meet
Shimali Senanayake in Geneva, February 22nd, 2006, GT 01:00 am. The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebel negotiators were set to take tough positions when they open talks on Wednesday for the first time in three years aimed at saving the island from sliding back to civil war.

The two sides were whisked away from their warring terrain in Sri Lanka to Chateau de Bossey, a secluded castle just outside the Swiss capital Geneva, to try and iron out differences over a cease-fire, both sides accuse each other of failing to execute.

Wednesday, also marked four years since the Norwegian-brokered agreement was signed between former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Norway's International Development Minister and top peace envoy Erik Solheim will make a statement ahead of facilitating the closed-door talks.

The government planned to set the stage for the meeting with an opening statement made by its chief negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva, officials involved in the talks said on condition of anonymity.

The statement is expected to record the need for a fresh truce agreement but also say the government was willing to talk on how to make the existing pact work better, government aides said.

The officials said this was mainly to appease hardliners in President Mahinda Rajapakse's government whom he promised to rehaul the Norwegian-brokered peace bid and 2002 truce.

"It would be ideal if it (the cease-fire agreement) could be changed," Rohitha Bogollagama, spokesman for the government team told reporters here late Tuesday. "We have always been of the opinion that the cease-fire should be amended."

"There is a need to convert it to a meaningful agreement," he said.

The opening statements may draw a heated debate between the two groups, as the rebels have stressed that talks will be confined to the "implementation," of the truce.

"The agenda is one line, but there are one thousand matters to discuss," the rebels' chief negotiator Anton Balasingham said, in reference to the cease-fire.

The government has been preparing extensively for the two-day talks and is armed with dossiers of statistics and video material to argue their case.

The government negotiators will push for addendum's to the existing pact, officials said.

The Colombo team is likely to suggest an appendix to the current agreement by fleshing out contentious clauses like, disarming of paramilitary groups and offensive operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE, they said.

The four talks sessions, spread over two days is seen as crucial to halt a wave of deadly attacks that have reignited war fears in Sri Lanka. However, the parties are long way off and still remain sharply divided about a final peace deal to end a two decade civil war that killed nearly 65,000 people before the Feb. 22 truce agreement.

The process had been deadlocked since the rebels walked out after six rounds of peace talks in April 2003, demanding wide autonomy in the north and east.

A rush of chilling attacks attacks have killed nearly 200 people since December and pushed the island to the brink of war before Solheim clinched a deal on Jan. 25 for the two sides to resume talks in Geneva.

Although open to discuss changes to the pact, the government team is weary not to push too hard and risk the Tigers walking out of their first meeting.

Ensuring that the two sides will meet again and the process of dialogue continues will mark as a measurement of sucess for the two-day meeting, even through both sides don't expect major strides toward resolving their grievances.

Officials involved in the process expressed hope that the 18th century castle known to have a soothing effect because it's surrounded by the Alps and a breah-taking view of lake Geneva, will add to infusing a positive atmosphere at the talk

The rebels, fighting to carve out a separate state for the 3.2 million minority Tamils, say they suffer widespread discrimination in education and jobs at the hands of the 14 million Sinhalese majority.

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Published: Tue Feb 21 18:21:10 EST 2006 Back to the top


No peace, no truce: All LTTE wants is Karuna
Hindustan Times, february 22. The main aim of the Tamil Tigers at the Geneva talks is to force the Sri Lankan Government to hand over Karuna, the renegade Tiger commander, and not search for peace, says a leading expert on South Asian Affairs.

"The aim of the LTTE is to force the Sri Lankan government to hand over Karuna. This is their priority, not P-Toms (Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure) or the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA). Karuna is getting stronger in the East -– that is the problem," says Dr S Chandrasekharan, head of New Delhi-based South Asia Analysis Group.

Karuna, Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran's right-hand man, had raised the banner of revolt in March 2004. Since then, reprisal killings between the two groups have gone on. More...

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Published: Tue Feb 21 23:39:48 EST 2006 Back to the top


Sri Lanka Peace Talks in Geneva Aim to Boost Cease-Fire Accord
bloomberg.com, February 21, 2006, 23:00 EDT. Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels mark the fourth anniversary of their cease-fire by starting peace talks today, as an upsurge in violence in the south Asian island threatens a return to civil war. Two days of talks in Geneva are being mediated by Norway and Switzerland... Back to the top

Sri Lanka peace talks puts bitter foes at crossroads
ft.com, February 21, 2006, 23:00 EDT. Sri Lanka and the Tamil separatists will today hold their first round of peace talks in almost three years, amid an alarming rise in violence and fears about the consequences of failing to revive the ceasefire... Back to the top

Swede to take over as head of SLMM
Saman Weragoda in Colombo, SLT 5.20 P.M Tuesday 21 February 2006. A Swedish national is to take over as the new head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) soon, The Lanka Academic Sources in Geneva revealed today... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Muslims want independent delegation at talks with Tigers
people.com.cn, February 21, 2006, 23:00 EDT. Sri Lanka's minority Muslim community on Tuesday called for a "separate and independent Muslim delegation at all future talks" with the Tamil Tigers... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to record need for a new cease-fire with Tamil rebels at Switzerland talks
Shimali Senanayake in Geneva, February 21th, 2006, GT 8:00 am. GENEVA The Sri Lankan government will inform the Tamil Tiger rebels of the need for a fresh cease-fire agreement but will not insist on replacing the pact when they meet on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three years to save the island from slipping back to war, officials said... Back to the top

Governments Agenda is for Peace- Bogollagama
Saman Weragoda in Colombo, SLT 1.00 A.M Wednesday 22 February 2006. Minister Rohitha Bogollama says the government's agenda during the Ceasefire talks in Switzerland would be for peace and the government was looking for a formula for peace since the conflict has affected all Sri Lankans... Back to the top

Government delegation hold talks with Norwegians
Saman Weragoda in Colombo, SLT 8.15 P.M Tuesday 21 February, 2006. The government delegation led by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva held talks with former Norwegian Deputy Minister Vidar Helgessen and Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Vidar Helgessen in Switzerland... Back to the top

Mediators hope to invoke 'Geneva spirit' in Sri Lankan peace talks
Associated Press, Tue February 21, 2006 13:46 EST . BRADLEY S. KLAPPER - Associated Press Writer - GENEVA (AP) Mediators meeting this week to ease tension in Sri Lanka - hope to invoke Geneva's century-old tradition as a city of peace... Back to the top

Interfaith prayers for peace talks begin in northern Sri Lanka , Buddhists to join later
Associated Press, Tue February 21, 2006 08:17 EST . VINCENT JEYAN - Associated Press Writer - JAFFNA, Sri Lanka - (AP) Hindus, Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka - 's troubled northern Jaffna peninsula prayed together for peace Tuesday, the eve of negotiations between the Buddhist-dominated government and mostly Hindu separatist rebels... Back to the top

Government negotiator to lobby for Muslim representation at talks with Tamil rebels
Shimali Senanayake in Geneva, February 21st, 2006, GT 11.30 am. A Sri Lankan Muslim politician on Tuesday said she will lobby for a separate Muslim delegation when the two sides open talks on Wednesday for the first time in three years... Back to the top

Sri Lankan government, Tamil leaders prepare for two-day peace talks near Geneva
Associated Press, Tue February 21, 2006 06:14 EST . BRADLEY S. KLAPPER - Associated Press Writer - Just agreeing to talk has helped to reduce the number of Sri Lankans fleeing their homes in fear, according to U... Back to the top

Reliance keen on entering Lankan oil industry
hindustantimes.com, February 21. Reliance Industries Ltd is exploring the possibility of entering the Sri Lankan oil sector in the field of exploration and refining... Back to the top

LTTE may say CFA doesn’t ban child recruitment
hindustantimes.com, February 21. At the talks with the Sri Lankan government at Geneva beginning on Wednesday, the LTTE may argue that child recruitment cannot be taken as a violation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) because child recruitment is not even mentioned in the CFA! According to a report from Geneva in the leading Tamil daily Sudar Oli on Tuesday, the LTTE is going to point out that Article 1 and 2 of the CFA mention only "abduction" as being a violation... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to make maximum use of Geneva talks with Tigers ...
people.com.cn, February 21. The Sri Lankan government would endeavor to make the full use of the Geneva talks with the Tamil Tiger rebels, the head of the government peace delegation said Monday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka moots Buddhist pilgrimage trail
hindu.com, Feb 21. CHENNAI: Sri Lanka has mooted the idea of a Buddhist pilgrimage trail to attract tourists from China, Japan and Korea... Back to the top

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