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Sri Lankan government and LTTE agree to hold talks

Sri Lankan government and LTTE agree to hold talks

By Sarath Kumara – World Socialist Web Site
30 January 2006

After considerable international pressure, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last Wednesday agreed to hold talks next month in Geneva for the first time since April 2003.

The talks will focus on “strengthening” the ceasefire, which was signed in February 2002 but has become a virtual dead letter since the election of Mahinda Rajapakse as president last November. More than 200 people, including military personnel, LTTE members and civilians, have been killed in a series of ambushes, bombings and assassinations over the past two months.

Norwegian mediator Erik Solheim and US under-secretary of state Nicholas Burns were both in Sri Lanka last week to push for a revival of peace talks. Even the venue had been a matter of sharp disagreement, with the LTTE demanding negotiations in Oslo or a European capital and Rajapakse insisting on Sri Lanka or another Asian country.

Rajapakse narrowly won the November presidential poll with the backing of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). In their electoral pacts with Rajapakse, both parties insisted on a tough stance toward the LTTE, including a renegotiation of the ceasefire to strengthen the military’s position and replace Norway as mediator. The JHU and JVP have repeatedly accused Norway, and Solheim in particular, of bias in favour of the LTTE.

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