4th March 2001
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LTTE ready for talks sans ceasefire?

The LTTE has agreed to conditions set by the Sri Lankan government for time-bound peace talks without a ceasefire, highly-placed government sources said yesterday.

They said the LTTE could lead to negotiations as early as May in Oslo or another European country.

They said the LTTE offer figured during a recent meeting called by Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a close aide of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, with a group of pro-government journalists and peace activists.

Mr. Samaraweera had said the LTTE had agreed to the government's proposals, conveyed to the rebels through Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim.

The LTTE could not be reached for comment to independently check whether it had agreed to government conditions for talks. The rebels have in the past rejected talks without a ceasefire being enforced while being silent on the issue of discussions within a specific time period.

A one-month truce called by the LTTE on December 24 was extended two weeks ago for the third consecutive month in a bid to show the group's desire for peace. The government has repeatedly rejected the offer, saying talks must be held without a ceasefire, pointing to the fact that the LTTE broke all rules during ceasefires in the past.

Political analysts said last week's British ban had put further pressure on the LTTE which repeated its willingness for peace talks even after the British move.

Mr. Solheim is meanwhile trying to work out a memorandum of understanding between the two sides before peace talks begin. The Norwegian envoy is expected in Colombo this week if the President doesn't take off to Europe on a planned trip. Meanwhile the LTTE was preparing to mount a legal battle to appeal against the proposed ban in Britain.

British Home Secretary Jack Straw tabling the Draft Order in Parliament on Wednesday said, "The Terrorism Act is important legislation which brings our provisions into line with the European Convention for Human Rights and ensures that we are better able to deal with the serious threats which terrorism poses.

"Taking account of police, security and legal advice, I have given careful consideration to which organisations should be recommended for proscription. Once the proscription of these organisations takes effect, it will be open to any of the terrorist organisations concerned to make an application to me as the Home Secretary, for deproscription. If that application is refused, the organisation can then appeal to a new independent tribunal, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission."

Peace group to meet CBK again

By Shelani de Silva

The inter-religious delegation which visited the uncleared areas two weeks ago is scheduled to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga next week.

The high powered delegation comprising 35 Buddhist monks, a Catholic bishop and two Catholic priests held a prayer service in Vavuniya and later met LTTE representatives and discussed the peace process with them.

Head of the delegation Ven. Kamburugamuve Vajira Thera told The Sunday Times that since President Kumaratunga was out of the country they were unable to get an appointment on their return.

'We made the request last week and are hopeful of getting a date by next week. We will urge both parties to settle the ethnic issue. Our mission was a part of this appeal,' said the monk.

Ven. Vajira Thera added that the delegation felt it was timely to meet the President following Britain's ban on the LTTE.

No passports on Mar. 7, 8

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has announced a temporary suspension of the issue of passports on March 7 and 8.

According to the Controller of Immigration and Emigration N. Bambaravanage, the computer system would be transferred to another bigger server, during these two days. Those wanting to obtain the 'same day service' for passports or renewals and those requiring amendments and extensions to M-series passports have been requested to make such applications at their earliest to avoid disappointment and inconvenience.

Hotline to the dead in new directory

By Nilika de Silva

The 2001 telephone directory is just out, but due to some information in the Government section being outdated, plans are underway to publish a new supplement, The Sunday Times learns.

Several deceased Ministers are listed in the directory.

The late Minister of Tourism Dharmasiri Senanayake has been listed in the position now being held by Minister Lakshman Kiriella, while the late Minister C.V. Gooneratne's name is listed as the Minister of Industrial Development and Minister M.H.M Ashraff as Minister of Port Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

As the deadline for gathering information was August last year Telecom sources explained that there were difficulties involved in accommodating changes that came close to or after this deadline.

Since there have been many changes, plans are underway to publish a new supplement, General Manager Marketing, Manilal de Mel told The Sunday Times.

LTTE guns not silent

The LTTE killed four civilians in the north central province further violating its unilateral cease -fire, military officials said yesterday.

The LTTE had first fired at a group of civilians in an area south of Padaviya killing one person and had abducted four others.

They had moved on to the Yanoya area. The bodies of three civilians were recovered last evening in the Peraru jungles while the other was still reported missing.

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