course for peace delegation
By Dilmini Samaranayake
The government’s peace delegation to Geneva is to be given
a crash course in the fundamentals of negotiating next week in Colombo
to prepare them to meet a formidable team of LTTE negotiators.
inexperienced Sri Lanka delegation led by Minister Nimal Siripala
de Silva is to undergo a "training," programme in the
coming week. The programme will be conducted by local experts.
of the senior members of the delegation has taken part previously
in any of the peace talks with the LTTE, nor sat at National Security
the subjects taught during this sandwich course on the peace process
are the basics of constitutional government such as what is federalism,
confederalism, the difference between united, unitary, the provisons
of the 2002 Ceasefire agreement and its violations, and the dos
and don'ts in negotiating.
course is being conducted under the auspices of the President's
Office. Efforts are also being made to get a team of international
experts from South Africa and Northern Ireland. Conflict resolution
expert John Paul Lederach from the United States is also expected
to be part of the team.
officials were unsure if they could collect this team before the
mid-February talks in Geneva. Otherwise, the 'local conflict resolution
experts' will be asked to bring the Sri Lankan delegation up to
government has informed the LTTE that it is ready for the talks
in Geneva on Feb. 15-16. The government picked the dates from three
options between Feb. 15 and 23 and made known its decision through
the Norwegian peace brokers on Thursday. However, the LTTE is yet
government last week picked its delegation for the Geneva talks
amid major lobbying from various quarters to be included in the
The government has announced that Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva
will head the negotiating team. The rest of the team is yet to be
officially announced but ministers Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and Rohitha
Bogollagama are likely to be in the team, presidential sources said.
lawyer and diplomat Faiz Musthapha is likely to be the delegation
to represent the Muslim community though the SLMC is asking for
a separate Muslim delegation.
advisory team, including military and legal officers and a Sri Lanka
UN expert, is set to accompany the main team, the presidential source
Meanwhile, Swiss and Norwegian officials are still to pick a location
for the Geneva talks.
location is expected to be a secluded venue with limited or no access
to the media. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera indicated last
week that the media would not be given the same access or facilities
as provided in the earlier rounds of peace talks during the UNF