V.S. Sambandan

COLOMBO: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Tuesday expressed pessimism on the outcome of the Geneva talks and said it was prepared to face the Government's military forces if required.

"We ourselves are not hopeful, how can the people be?" asked LTTE's political wing leader S.P. Tamilselvan at a press conference in Kilinochchi. He was asked if the talks had raised hopes among the people. The LTTE delegation arrived in Colombo and was flown to the rebel-held area by the Government.

The Geneva talks, Mr. Tamilselvan said, "were a big opportunity" given by the Tigers to the south.

"If they utilise it properly, then there can be peace. Several questions have arisen. The recent actions have raised doubts about the Government's adherence to the peace efforts."

Asked on the call by the President's electoral ally, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) that the Government should be militarily prepared, Mr. Tamilselvan said: "If they thrust a war on us, we will easily face it in a united manner."

Asked if the LTTE would participate in the second round in April if the other groups were not disarmed by then, he said, "We will go by his [Prabakaran]decision."

Monitoring Committee

President Mahinda Rajapakse has proposed the formation of a "Monitoring Committee" comprising representatives of political parties to oversee the peace talks with the LTTE.

The committee would be a component of the all party talks, aimed at building a southern consensus for a solution to the decades-long separatist conflict.

Mr. Rajapakse invited political parties including the Opposition United National Party (UNP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to nominate a representative each to the committee.

The meeting was attended by other Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim parties represented in Parliament.