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LTTE requests Norway for new date for Geneva talks

Written by: Staff

Colombo, Apr 13 (UNI) The Tamil Tiger rebels today requested the Norwegian facilitator to postpone the second round of direct talks with the Sri Lankan government in Geneva and set a new date after April 22 to enable its Eastern commanders to have discussions with the rebel leadership in Kilinochchi on the ground situation before attending the next round of talks.

The meeting was earlier scheduled to begin on April 19.

''We have requested the Norwegian facilitators to postpone the date for the next round of talks in Geneva and set a new date after April 22 for our Eastern Commanders to have discussions with the leadership on the ground situation in the Eastern province,'' LTTE media co-ordinator Daya Master told UNI this evening.

He said the controversy in organising travel arrangement for their Eastern Commanders to visit Kilinochchi safely has ended today. ''With the Tiger leadership responding in favour of the latest suggestion submitted by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) head, Major General Ulf Henricsson, who assured safe travel of the Eastern LTTE Commanders in a civilian vessel without Sri Lanka Navy involvement.'' ''The SLMM head will be on board the ferry on Saturday when the LTTE will be sending Acting Commanders to Eastern districts and brining back eastern commanders to Mullaitivu,'' Daya Master said, adding their eastern commanders would travel back a week later with the same procedure.

The SLMM head has held decisive discussions with the head of LTTE's political wing in Kilinochchi today and submitted his latest suggestions involving his personal physical presence in the civilian ferry with ten other SLMM monitors without Sri Lanka Navy personnel on board.

''The Government of Sri Lanka, adopting a hardline stance on the ground and attempting to portray a different version to the International Community, would not be allowed to scuttle the reputation of Tigers,'' the Tamilnet website quoted Mr Thamilselvan as saying to the press after meeting with the SLMM head.

Earlier, the government at a press conference in Colombo today claimed that it was committed to attend the Geneva talks as scheduled despite LTTE's acts of provocations and ceasefire violations.

Accusing the LTTE of ''shifting their tactics and attacking civilian targets as was the case in the eastern Trincomalee district'' Minister of Plan Implementation, Keheliya Rambukwella, said ''The Government would go to Geneva talks as planned and tell the international community that this was a barbaric act directed against civilians.'' UNI XC SC GC1732

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