Geneva as compromise talks venue
Norwegian peace facilitators are likely to suggest the Swiss capital of Geneva for the resumption of talks between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Norwegian International Development Minister and Special Envoy Erik Solheim, who arrives in Colombo tomorrow is expected to sound the LTTE over this proposal.

The Sunday Times learns that President Mahinda Rajapakse has conveyed to Norwegian facilitators during informal diplomatic soundings the Government’s willingness to hold talks in Geneva as a compromise venue. This is on the basis that the Government is not averse to conducting the second round of future talks in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Diplomatic circles in Colombo believe the decision over Geneva now rests almost entirely on LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. They say there is a strong possibility of the Tiger guerrillas considering such a proposal. However, in such an event, they believe, the LTTE may place further demands on the Government including the repeated demand to disband “paramilitary groups” purportedly working in collusion with the military and probes into what they term civilian killings.

At present, the positions of the Government and the LTTE remain frozen. The LTTE leadership is insisting that the first round of talks should be held in Oslo. President Mahinda Rajapakse has categorically ruled out such a possibility. The Government earlier insisted that the venue should be an Asian capital.

Also arriving tomorrow is LTTE’s Chief Peace Negotiator and ideologue, Anton Balasingham. He is likely to fly together with Mr. Solheim to Kilinochchi tomorrow for talks with LTTE leader Prabhakaran.
(See Situation Report by Iqbal Athas on Page 11)

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