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Geneva talks, ultimate victory for peace: Lanka

By Staff
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Colombo, Feb 26 (UNI) Sri Lanka's chief negotiator, Minister Nimal Sripala de Silva, today hailed the outcome of the talks between the government and the LTTE in Geneva as an ''ultimate victory for peace and the peace-loving people in Sri Lanka'' because the parties have agreed in writing to take ''all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no intimidation, acts of violence, abductions or killings'' in the country.

''We are happy that under the able leadership of President Mahinda Rajapakse, we were able to recommence the talks with the LTTE. We are happy to note that some form of confidence has been rebuilt between the parties and the discussions ended with some positive results,'' Minister de Silva said.

Describing the two-day direct talks with the LTTE in Geneva as ''a difficult bargaining time'', he said that it was ''not a cricket match to analyse whether LTTE has won or the government has won''.

He said that the parties agreed to meet again in Geneva in April to resolve several other outstanding issues.

According to the joint statement issued by the Norwegian facilitators at the end of the talks on Thursday, the Tamil Tigers promised to stop attacks on the government security forces and police, while President Rajapakse's government pledged to take relevant steps against the armed groups, whom the LTTE accused of being harboured by the military against the Tigers.

''As far as the government is concerned, there is no particular armed group identified as such, but any person or group, including the LTTE, carrying arms and engaged in any illegal activities would be dealt with in accordance with the due process of law,'' Mr de Silva said, expressing hope that LTTE too would adhere to their commitment.

''We have to trust them (LTTE) and build confidence. In the confidence-building process, we have to trust each other, which has been achieved to a greater extent at the Geneva talks. But the people of Sri Lanka and the international community would decide whom should be trusted based on the ground reality when we meet in Geneva in April,'' he said.

Claiming that the fresh commitments by the parties itself ''is the amendment to the ceasefire agreement'', he said the parties should not trap themselves in various words, ''but should go by the spirit to bring about a conducive environment for the peace talks and move forward''.

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