The Lanka Academic

 
FEBRUARY 23, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 6, NO. 323

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F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Joint Statement by the Government and the LTTE
Saman Weragoda in Colombo, SLT 6.30 A.M Friday 24 February 2006. The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LLTE) met in Geneva 22-23 February for talks on the Ceasefire Agreement.

The parties discussed issues related to the ceasefire, including the concerns of the Muslim, Sinhalese, and Tamil civilians.

The GOSL and the LTTE are committed to respecting and upholding the Ceasefire Agreement, and reconfirmed their commitment to fully cooperate with and respect the rulings of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

The GOSL and the LTTE are committed to taking all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no intimidation, acts of violence, abductions or killings.

The LTTE is committed to taking all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no acts of violence against the security forces and police. The GOSL is committed to taking all necessary measures in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement to ensure that no armed group or person other than Government security forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations.

The GOSL and the LTTE discussed all issues concerning the welfare of children in the North East, including the recruitment of children.

The SLMM will report on implementation on the above agreements at the next session of talks.

The parties requested the Swiss Government to host the next round of talks in Geneva on 19-21 April 2006.

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Published: Thu Feb 23 19:52:09 EST 2006


Sri Lanka gov't, rebels reaffirm truce: report+
Associated Press, Thu February 23, 2006 16:53 EST . ARTHUR MAX

Associated Press Writer

GENEVA (AP) _ Sri Lankan government negotiators and Tamil Tiger rebels agreed Thursday to resume their cease-fire talks in April and restrain the level of violence, Norwegian mediator Erik Solheim said.

Solheim said the two sides agreed during two days of talks that they would meet again April 19-21 in Geneva in the effort to salvage their tattered cease-fire.

The opposing sides agreed to take ``all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no intimidation, acts of violence, abductions or killings,'' said a joint statement read by Solheim.

Both sides ``are committed to respecting and upholding the cease-fire agreement,'' the statement said.

The rebels committed to refrain from acts of violence against the military or police. And in a move to curb an offshoot of the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam that turned against the rebels, the government agreed that no one but security forces would be allowed to carry arms in government-controlled areas.

The conference fell short of its stated goal of taking practical steps toward strengthening the cease-fire. Instead, the government and rebels agreed on a two-month trial period to test each other's intentions.

It was made clear during at least one tense exchange that failure to live up to the commitments in the joint statement would result in an end to restraint and a resumption of attacks, said one rebel delegate, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not an authorized spokesman.

Solheim put a positive face on the results.

``This was above my expectations,'' Solheim said of the joint statement, adding that the two sides had begun to build confidence in each other. He said the talks were ``hard, tough, realistic, but also with humor.''

He said the level of violence had fallen significantly since the Geneva talks were announced four weeks ago.

``I expect there will be more deescalation after this event,'' Solheim said.

The two sides clashed at their opening meeting on Wednesday over whether to amend their truce agreement, signed exactly four years earlier. That issue remained unresolved Thursday and will be discussed at the next round in April.

``Both parties made compromises,'' said Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's chief negotiator.

The conference, held at a secluded chateau outside Geneva, was the first high-level contact between the two sides since peace talks broke down nearly three years ago.

Nearly 3,500 truce violations have been recorded since 2002, but a spike in violence starting last December, which claimed some 150 lives, raised fears that the Indian Ocean island was again on the brink of war.

On Thursday, an army spokesman in Colombo accused rebel gunmen of killing a Muslim man in eastern Sri Lanka, but the rebels denied involvement in Wednesday's shooting. The Tigers have a long history of hostility toward the Muslims, Sri Lanka's second largest minority after the Tamils, who are mostly Hindu or Christian.

The government had argued that the cease-fire had ``serious deficiencies'' because the Tamil Tigers had been able to build up forces, but the rebels maintained the document was well-crafted.

Peace talks broke down in 2003 after six rounds of negotiation that was converging on the idea of a federation _ a significant withdrawal from the rebels' original demand for full independence in the north and east where the minority Tamils are concentrated.

Tamil rebels have been fighting since 1983, complaining of systematic discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. The war killed 65,000 people before the cease-fire was signed in 2002.

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Published: Thu Feb 23 18:18:59 EST 2006 Back to the top


Co-chairs urge flexibility as government, Tamil rebels enter final day of Geneva talks
Shimali Senanayake in CELIGNY, Switzerland, February 23rd, 2006. The Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger negotiators sat down for a second and final day of talks a day after a shaky start as foreign governments piled up pressure on the parties to be flexible.

"We urge parties to approach the opportunity with an open and flexible attitude," the quartet known as "Co-Chairs" in a statement issued in Washington.

The co-chairs are made up of Japan, the United States, the European Union and Norway, key financial backers of Sri lanka who have played a key role in promoting a permanent peace in Sri Lanka since the Feb. 22, 2002 cease-fire agreement.

Norwegian peace brokers were trying hard to cool the two sides and edge them toward some progress after both the Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels made opening statements on Wednesday that pulled in opposite directions on how the cease-fire should be best implemented.

Relations were further strained after the LTTE released chief negotiator Anton Balasingham's opening speech behind closed-door despite agreement not to. The issue was raised when the two sides met after lunch, 1 hours later than scheduled. The lost time was caught up at the afternoon sessions.

The government subsequently also released its opening remarks made by health minister Nimal Siripala de Silva but cancelled a media briefing scheduled for late Wednesday.

Thursday's talks were to continue with the government taking up a spate of attacks blamed on the rebels that killed the island's foreign minister Lakshaman Kadirgamar and scores of people.

The government team was armed with piles of documentary evidence it was set to present at the meeting, that included video clippings.

The Tigers on Wednesday had launched into a lengthy presentation that accused government forces of colluding with paramilitaries _ particularly the breakaway Karuna faction _ and demanded they be disbanded immediately.

The government had argued that all paramilitaries in existence at the time the truce was signed had been disarmed, and the break away leader didn't come under the equation.

The Tigers were not pleased.

The atmosphere at Wednesday's meeting was not cool as the temperature outside the Chaeau de Bossey, in the canton of Geneva and Norwegian peace brokers were concerned about the outcome.

Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim warned at the inauguration of the meeting that confidence was at a low ebb and played down expectations of a breakthrough.

Official and diplomats on both sides say agreement for the parties to meet again, will in fact amount to the Swiss meeting being a success.

Analysts say it would be unrealistic to expect more from the parties who have not met in three years and are poles apart of most sontentious issues.

The parties were yet to decide if the media briefing scheduled for later Tuesday, would be joint one or separate, another indication of how much confidence the meeting had established.

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Published: Thu Feb 23 09:16:23 EST 2006 Back to the top

Related News Stories
·
No headway in Sri Lanka talks  - bbc.co.uk

Sri Lankan government, rebels, try for second day to salvage cease-fire
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India, Lanka to ink MoU for E P activities in hydrocarbon sector
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Sri Lanka government, Tamil rebel truce talks off to a rocky start
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US hails Sri Lanka peace move
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Talks likely to keep Lanka peace wagon rolling
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Sri Lanka government, Tamil Tiger rebels brace to talk tough at truce meet
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Protests in Geneva against LTTE
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Renegades says kill S.Lanka Tiger rebel before talks
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Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian scholars pray for peace in Sri Lanka
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Swede Takes Over Sri Lanka Truce Monitors
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Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka by four wickets in historic win
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