The Lanka Academic

 
OCTOBER 12, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 7, NO. 189

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Political rivals in Sri Lanka agree to pursue national consensus
hindu.com, Oct. 12. For the first time in the history of the island nation, the arch political rivals Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President, Mahinda Rajapaksa and the United National Party under the leadership of a former Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday agreed to pursue a `national consensus' on all issues confronting the country.

Both sides agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on six points including the ethnic issue. On the ethnic issue, the two sides have agreed broadly to work on a `federal' solution to the ethnic strife that has afflicted the country for decades.

The extraordinary distance the two rival parties have travelled could be gauged from the fact that President Rajapaksa invited the UNP to join the Cabinet of Ministers to `effectively carry out the agreed programme of work'.

The agreement came about at a meeting of representatives of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and United National Party who met at President's Office earlier in the day. Mr. Rajapaksa led the SLFP and Mr. Wickremesinghe represented his party team.

A statement by the President's Secretariat said here that signing of the MOU between the two parties is to be `expedited'. Earlier the expectations were that the MoU would be signed before October 15. At a separate news conference, Mr. Wickremesinghe said that the signing ceremony could be delayed by a few more days pending finalisation of the practical details.

Mr. Wickremesinghe, who is currently the Leader of the Opposition, told journalists that the Working Committee of UNP would meet on Monday to consider the pros and cons of the offer made by Mr. Rajapaksa to be part of his Government to implement the MoU.

The former Prime Minister was at pains to emphasise that his party has taken up the offer made by Mr. Rajapaksa for cooperation with the objective of facilitating a `political solution' to the ethnic issue. "We are committed to pursuit of peace while safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country", he said.

In response to a question Mr. Wickremesinghe said at the morning, he enquired from the President about the status of proposed talks with the LTTE and Mr. Rajapaksa informed him that the Government was going ahead with the dialogue on October 28 and 29.

"We believe both sides should sit down to talks with the help of Norway as the official facilitator and assistance of the Co-Chairs and India. People have expectations on us to end the war and we are going to play our role towards that goal", he said.

Statement by Mr. Rajapaksa's office said that at the meeting between the delegates of both parties President Rajapaksa emphasized the importance of each party safeguarding its individuality while working together on a common programme.

The President also said there was an opportunity for other political parties to also join with the Government to help overcome the challenges faced by the country today and for the greater welfare of the people. Mr. Wickremesinghe said his party would interact with other parties on the subject.

The UNP delegations included Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, G. L. Peiris MP, Milinda Moragoda MP, Rukman Senanayake MP, John Amaratunga MP, Ravi Karunanayake MP and former Chairman Malik Samarawickrema.

The SLFP delegates were Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, Leader of the House - Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and Minister Susil Premajayatha.

Apart from discussions on this occasion among the members of the two delegations, there was also a separate discussion between President Rajapaksa and Mr. Wickramasinghe, the statement said. More... Discuss this story
Published: Thu Oct 12 14:46:12 EDT 2006

Related News Stories
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Sri Lanka 's political adversaries seal agreement to resolve the bloody ethnic conflict  - Associated Press
·
Sri Lanka invites opposition to join Cabinet  - zeenews.com

Sri Lanka army suffers major loss in pre-talks fighting+
Associated Press, Thu October 12, 2006 09:30 EDT . COLOMBO, Oct. 12 (Kyodo) _ The Sri Lanka army has suffered its heaviest setback since the February cease-fire with at least 118 soldiers killed and over 500 wounded, according to reports reaching Colombo on Thursday.

The official death toll in the fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula released by the Defense Ministry earlier Thursday was 44 soldiers killed and 225 wounded.

However, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said that 74 bodies of soldiers were handed to the ICRC at rebel-held Kilinochchi in the North.

This raised the military death toll in the fighting to 118.

The LTTE claimed on a website that 120 soldiers had been killed.

''Both sides understate their losses and the admitted figures suggests a major reverse for government forces,'' a Colombo-based diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

At a meeting in Colombo with opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Mahinda Rajapakse invited the main opposition United National Party to join the government in a bid to forge a consensus among the majority Sinhalese on power sharing with the minority Tamils.

Wickremesinghe said that the offer must be considered by his party next week.

''I told the president that the best advice I could give him is to stop the war and go for peace talks on the basis of power sharing,'' he said.

The Defense Ministry claimed on its website that over 200 Tigers had been killed and many more wounded while the LTTE said that the bodies of about 75 soldiers had been left behind in rebel-controlled Kilali.

A photograph published on the pro-LTTE TamilNet website showed a line of dead Sri Lankan soldiers.

Earlier this week, Norway, which is facilitating Sri Lanka's peace process, announced that the government and the LTTE have agreed to a face-to-face meeting in Switzerland on Oct. 28 and 29, reviving faltering efforts to find a negotiated solution.

In a statement released in Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack welcomed the agreement for talks in Geneva but cautioned that the ongoing violence ''is putting the agreement at risk.''

''We call on both sides to cease hostilities immediately and foster an environment that is conducive to holding productive discussions in Geneva,'' he said.

Diplomats and analysts said that recent victories of government forces appeared to have encouraged military strategists to make a push to weaken the LTTE before the Geneva talks.

''The army seems to have fallen victim to its own propaganda,'' one analyst said.

While the LTTE accused the government of escalating the fighting, the military has maintained that it has confined itself to defensive action and pre-emptive strikes where necessary against rebel concentrations alongside the army's forward defensive line. Discuss this story
Published: Thu Oct 12 14:08:16 EDT 2006 Back to the top

Related News Stories
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Sri Lanka military reels after mauling by Tigers  - thestandard.com.hk
·
Sri Lanka peace talks in doubt as military suffers record losses  - afp

Sri Lanka: ICRC hands over bodies to armed forces
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland, 12 Oct 2006 19:10:14 GMT. Following clashes between the Sri Lankan Security Forces (SLSF) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at the forward defence line on the Jaffna peninsula, the ICRC sub-delegation in Kilinochchi was asked by the LTTE this morning to hand over 74 bodies to the SLSF.

The ICRC sub-delegation in Vavuniya immediately contacted the SLSF to inform them of the LTTE request, expressing the ICRC's willingness to offer its humanitarian services for this handover.

With the SLSF's consent, the ICRC used four trucks and one landcruiser for the operation.

The handover took place today at 8.00 p.m.

local time at Omanthai checkpoint on the A9 road.

This afternoon, the ICRC also visited one wounded member of the SLSF at Kilinochchi hospital, where he is being held by the LTTE.

For further information, please contact: Davide Vignati, ICRC Colombo, tel: +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 77 728 96 82 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24 or visit our website: www.icrc.org

See also ICRC media contacts

This article on www.icrc.org

More...
Published: Thu Oct 12 19:19:00 EDT 2006 Back to the top


LTTE stepping up violence: Colombo
hindu.com, Thursday October 12, 2006 - 21:00 EDT. COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) on Thursday claimed that at least 478 persons, including 78 of its own troops and 400 cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were killed in one of the deadly flare-ups in the peninsula in the past 24 hours... Back to the top

Sri Lanka clashes kill 129 troops
bbc.co.uk, 12 October 2006. At least 129 Sri Lankan army soldiers were killed in fierce fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels on Wednesday close to the northern city of Jaffna... Back to the top

Sri Lankan government ready for talks with rebels despite fighting that killed scores
Associated Press, Thu October 12, 2006 05:48 EDT . LEIGH MURRAY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Sri Lankan government said Thursday it remains committed to peace talks with Tamil Tiger separatists, despite raging battles a day earlier that the military said killed 200 rebels and 43 soldiers... Back to the top

U.S. Army War College Honours Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunge The Heart of a Lion the Love of a Brother
Embassy of Sri Lanka, Thursday October 12, 2006 - 20:45 EDT. A fitting epitaph for Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunge, bestowed on him at an inspiring and poignant Memorial Dedication at the U... Back to the top

Sri Lankan fighter jets pound rebel areas; Tigers say military launched major offensive battle
Associated Press, Wed October 11, 2006 06:12 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI

Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Fighter jets pounded Tamil Tiger positions in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday in what the rebels said was a major offensive... Back to the top


U.S. welcomes agreement on date to hold peace talks between government and Tamil Tigers
Associated Press, Wed October 11, 2006 14:57 EDT . - - WASHINGTON (AP) The United States welcomed on Wednesday the agreement between Sri Lanka - and the Tamil Tigers to resume peace talks but cautioned that continuing violence is creating doubts on whether the talks will take place... Back to the top

U.S. Says It's `Deeply Concerned' About Fighting in Sri Lanka
Bloomberg, Oct 12 02:08. Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government is ``deeply concerned'' by the latest fighting between Sri Lankan forces and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and said the violence is jeopardizing peace talks later this month... Back to the top

Sri Lanka army suffers heavy casualties in major battle
afp, October 11. COLOMBO (AFP) - Tamil Tiger rebels killed at least 35 government troops and wounded another 200, halting a major offensive into their territory in northern Sri Lanka, military sources said... Back to the top

Thirty-five Lanka troops die in battle
ndtv.com, October 11. At least 35 Sri Lankan troops were killed and over 200 injured when Tamil Tiger rebels resisted a major military offensive into their territory in northern Jaffna peninsula on Wenesday... Back to the top

Sri Lankan military says 22 soldiers and 'large number' of rebels killed in Jaffna battle
Associated Press, Wed October 11, 2006 06:12 EDT . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Fierce fighting between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tigers on the besieged Jaffna peninsula has left 22 soldiers and a ``large number'' of rebels dead, the government said Wednesday... Back to the top

Tigers say Sri Lankan military has launched major offensive on northern rebel positions
Associated Press, Wed October 11, 2006 00:29 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Tamil Tigers said Wednesday that the Sri Lankan army has launched a major military offensive against rebel positions on besieged northern Jaffna peninsula, triggering a fierce battle that has left two soldiers wounded... Back to the top

Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tigers engaged in artillery battle, military says
Associated Press, Tue October 10, 2006 23:53 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Army troops and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels are fighting a fierce artillery and mortar battle on the Jaffna peninsula in Sri Lanka - 's volatile north, the military said Wednesday... Back to the top

SL wants LTTE to take up core issues
hindustantimes.com, October 10, 2006. he Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that the LTTE should discuss the core political issues involved in the ethnic conflict at the talks, which he hopes will be held on October 28 and 29 in Switzerland... Back to the top

Sri Lankan Exports Rise 25.6 Pct in Aug.
Associated Press, Wed October 11, 2006 06:48 EDT . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's exports surged 25.6 percent in August from a year earlier, reflecting robust growth in shipments of textiles, garments and rubber-based products, the central bank said in a statement Wednesday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka gets more flights to top Indian tourist cities in ...
lankabusinessonline.com, Wed, October 11, 2006 - 08:12 EDT. Oct 11, 2006 (LBO) Sri Lanka has won additional flights to Indian metropolitan cities Mumbai and Bangalore, following a round of talks with India this week on liberalising air services... Back to the top

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