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'Norway must arrange sea transport for commanders'

Written by: Staff

Colombo, Apr 8: Blaming the Sri Lankan government of adopting an uncompromising stance in providing air transportation, the Tamil Tiger rebels have urged the Norwegian facilitators to arrange sea transport for its eastern commanders ''to attend a preparatory central committee meeting before the next session of the Geneva talks'', scheduled to commence on April 19.

In a letter to the Norwegian Ambassador to Colombo, LTTE'spolitical wing head, S P Thamilselvan, has warned that the organisation is ''now left with the alternative of making our own sea transport conscious of the risks that would ensue in any possible Confrontations with the SL Navy that would put the ceasefire agreement CFA into grave risk.'' A Norwegian Embassy official confirmed that they have received the letter in this regard from the LTTE's political wing head yesterday.

''This urgent communication is being addressed to you in the context of Sri Lanka Government's adamant refusal to arrange air transport to our commanders in the East (Batticaloa and Trincomalee) to attend the crucial central committee meeting prior to our delegation attending the Geneva talks as scheduled,'' the Tamilnet website quoted Mr Thamilselvan as stating in the letter.

''Please understand that we have to resort to our own sea transport only because of inevitable circumstances created by the adamant attitude of the government. As a viable alternative, we suggest that arrangements be made for sea transport with SLMM monitors on board as early as possible,'' the LTTE letter said.

The LTTE's request for sea transportation has come a couple of days after Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim and his deputy Jon Hanssen-Bauer left the island for New Delhi, after separate talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse and the LTTE leaders on salvaging the four-year-long truce.

Before leaving for New Delhi on Thursday, the Norwegian facilitators urged both the Sri Lankan government and the rebels to adhere to the provisions of the fragile ceasefire agreement and the agreement reached at the Geneva direct talks in mid-February, warning that ''there will be problems down the road'' otherwise.

''We strongly urge both the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to do whatever is in their hand to stick to the letter of the ceasefire agreement and what was agreed in Geneva and implement them as it would help to rapidly move forward to the next round in Geneva,'' Mr Solheim said.


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