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A ray of hope as LTTE agrees to Oslo talks

The LTTE yesterday formally announced it would take part in the upcoming Oslo talks on the safety of the SLMM monitors in Sri Lanka in what would be the first time the government and the rebels sit at the negotiating table since the February Geneva talks.

LTTE media spokesman Daya Master said the LTTE had already conveyed its decision to the Norwegian peace facilitators having considered the SLMM’s request made to the LTTE on Saturday.

The government however said it was still considering the Norwegian invitation for the June 8 and 9 meeting which would be attended by the Nordic countries whose representatives make up the SLMM.

"The Norwegian invitation is still under careful consideration. If the two-day meeting goes ahead as scheduled it will most likely focus on all aspects of the SLMM functions including their safety and security," government peace secretariat Deputy Head Ketheesh Loganathan told the Daily Mirror.

Daya Master said the LTTE was now awaiting transport and security guarantees for its delegates who would attend the two-day talks and to finalize travel plans to Oslo via the Bandaranaike International airport.

"Mr. Thamilselvan had informed the Norwegians we will attend the two-day talks following the request put forward to us on Saturday. Although Mr. Thamilselvan earlier said we need time to think about the invitation, we are keen to go to Oslo anyway," Daya Master said.

Norwegian special peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer put forward the invitation for the Oslo talks to the LTTE when he met Mr. Thamilselvan on Saturday while Minister Erik Solheim invited the government for these talks.

SLMM head Ulf Henrikson earlier discussed the concerns of the ceasefire monitors when he met the Norwegian facilitators and the contributing countries in Oslo recently.

The SLMM was also considering the feasibility of increasing the number of monitors on the ground in an environment of escalating violence which was at its worst since the ceasefire agreement was signed in 2002.Meanwhile sea monitoring remains suspended after an LTTE attack on the navy threatened the lives of two SLMM monitors who were aboard two navy vessels at the time.

The SLMM had submitted some requirements to both the government and the LTTE if sea monitoring was to be resumed.

While the LTTE had responded to the SLMM requirements Mr. Loganathan said the government’s response might be taken up at the Oslo meeting if it was held as scheduled.

The government and the LTTE have not sat down at the same table since the February Geneva talks with the much-awaited second round of discussions still on hold and the violence on the ground showing little sign of abating. -Daily Mirror-By Easwaran Rutnam

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May 30, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News and politics, South Asia, World News

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