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News


New peace moves
Govt-LTTE in talks quandary

Norwegian facilitators anticipated Colombo’s response to an apparent peace overture by the LTTE yesterday, but representatives of both sides played down their faith in the new moves to get them back to the negotiating table.
The LTTE decision to release NCPA policeman Bandujeewa Weerasinghe Bopitigoda left the government in a quandary, after Norway claimed that it had been a gesture of goodwill on the part of the Tigers to kick-start the stalled peace bid, diplomats said.
Diplomatic sources told The Nation that the government believes that the LTTE only makes peace overtures when they are militarily weak. According to these sources, the government believes it will have problems convincing the armed forces of the LTTE’s bona fides now, especially after the Tigers’ military losses in the recent fighting.
Government Defence Spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella commenting the release of Sub Inspector Bandujeewa Bopitigoda said the government was not excited about the release. “The LTTE should have released him a long time back since there have been many requests to do so,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, the LTTE has ruled out direct dialogue with the government at the moment. LTTE Media Spokesman Daya Master told The Nation the release of the Sri Lankan policeman was only a goodwill gesture and did not mean they were ready for talks while the government continued to launch military attacks on them.
“As it is, the ground condition is not fit for talks. The roads are blocked and our people are put into untold hardships. The troops continue to hit us. Therefore we will not enter into any direct talks with the government,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission outgoing Head Ulf Henricsson and new Head of Mission, Major General Lars Johan Sølvberg paid a courtesy visit on LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Tamilselvan and other Tiger leaders in Kilinochchi on Friday (25). SLMM Spokesman Thofinnur Omarsson told The Nation that the decision to free the policemen had followed a request made by Henricsson for a goodwill-gesture.