V.S. Sambandan

Norwegian special envoy meets Government and LTTE representatives

LTTE wants `hurdles' cleared by GovernmentArmy blames LTTE for escalation of violence

COLOMBO: The stalemate in Sri Lanka's stalled ceasefire talks continued on Thursday despite efforts by the facilitator, Norway, to bring about a breakthrough in the standoff between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer flew to rebel-held Kilinochchi to meet LTTE's political wing leader S.P. Tamilselvan and on his return to Colombo met the head of the Government's Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) Palitha Kohona to discuss issues raised by the LTTE.

During the meeting with Mr. Hanssen-Bauer, Mr. Tamilselvan reiterated the position that the Tigers would be unable to participate in the Geneva talks until ``hurdles'' were cleared by the Government and a ``conducive atmosphere'' created.

The LTTE also discussed issues relating to modalities for ``safe transportation'' of its commanders between northern and eastern Sri Lanka to enable them to participate in a central committee meeting in Kilinochchi. The LTTE blamed ``paramilitaries'' and the security forces for killings in the north and east. The Army blames the LTTE for the escalation in the violence.

The first round of ceasefire talks between the Government and the LTTE was held in February in Geneva. At the end of that round the two sides agreed to meet again on April 19 and 21. However, following a standoff earlier this month on the issue of safe movement of LTTE commanders, the Government and the LTTE agreed to postpone the talks to April 24 and 25. Subsequently, the LTTE on Sunday said it would not be able to attend the Geneva talks.