NATIONAL

Sri Lanka makes first move

COLOMBO JUNE 26. Colombo's chief negotiator, G.L. Peiris, today said the Sri Lankan Government was "preparing a set of proposals reflecting the main features of a provisional administrative structure" for the consideration of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). These proposals — which were "not in the form of a final document" — would be sent to the Tigers "within the next two weeks".

Declining to spell out details, Prof. Peiris, who is also the Constitutional Affairs Minister, said the LTTE would be sent the "basic features" of the Government's thinking on the provisional administrative structure, which would "not be very detailed".

Colombo was keen on getting the view of the Tigers, he said and added that "it is abundantly clear that there has to be an input from the LTTE".

With today's announcement, the Sri Lankan Government has made the first move from the entrenched positions adopted by both the Tigers and Colombo, after the former unilaterally pulled out of talks on April 21, citing tardy implementation of promises made during peace talks since last September.

Subsequently, the rebels put the ball in Colombo's court, demanding a "workable mechanism, and not just guarantees" for an interim administrative structure for the northeast, with a majority stake for themselves and as "proposed by its leadership", to resume negotiations.

Offers by Colombo since then included a development-oriented mechanism, which was rejected by the Tigers as falling short of their demand for a "politico-administrative" structure.

Solheim meets Ranil, Balasingham

The offer comes just after the stalled Sri Lankan peace process saw slender hopes of revival with facilitators, Norway, holding "frank and constructive" meetings with the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government in London on Monday.

Oslo's special envoy, Erik Solheim, met the LTTE's chief negotiator, Anton S. Balasingham, and Mr. Wickremesinghe, separately and discussed "issues relating to interim administrative structures" a Norwegian statement said on Thursday.

No details of the discussions were made public. However, a Tamil website, TamilNet, interpreted the meeting between Mr. Balasingham and Mr. Solheim as "a positive signal" to the Sri Lankan Government.

That the LTTE is in no haste to climb down from its demand for a politico-administrative interim administrative structure was also apparent.

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