Colombo, Apr 20 (UNI) Tamil Tiger rebels today informed the Norwegian facilitators that their participation in the direct talks with the Sri Lankan government, scheduled in Geneva for April 24, "will not be possible" until a stable situation is restored in the volatile North-East region.
This move threatens to postpone the talks indefinitely.
"Our participation at the proposed direct talks in Geneva with the government of Sri Lanka will not be possible until a stable situation is created in the North-East," a pro-LTTE website, Nitharsanam has quoted LTTE's political wing head, S P Thamilselvan as saying after a meeting with the visiting Norwegian special peace envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer in Kilinochchi today.
According to the website, Mr Thamilselvan said the present escalation of violence in the North-East could not be controlled unless the government implemented what it agreed upton at the Geneva talks in mid-February, ''including disarming of paramilitaries''.
The Norwegian envoy, who arrived in Colombo on Tuesday on an unscheduled visit, held talks with Prime Minister Ratnasri Wickremanayake and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday.
He flew to the rebel-held Kilinochchi region this morning for yet another discussion with LTTE's political wing head, S P Thamilselvan, on salvaging the shaky process.
The LTTE decision's not to participate at the Geneva talks for an indefinite period has come exactly a day after the government expressed optimism that the rescheduled direct talks with the Tamil Tigers would take place in Geneva.
''The government is on schedule and making all arrangements to be in Geneva on the second arranged date (April 24-25). As far as the government is concerned, we are optimistic that the talks will go on," Minister of Plan Implementation, Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters here yesterday.
The truce related violence in the volatile North-East region continued despite the presence of the Norwegian special envoy in Sri Lanka for a fresh peace bid.
A member of the anti-LTTE Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) was shot in the heavily-guarded Batticaloa district this morning by unidentified gunmen, while two bodies with gunshot injuriees have been found in the Northern Vavuniya town.
Over 70 security forces personnel and civilians have been killed during the past couple of weeks in the stepped-up attacks on government security forces by the suspected LTTE cadre. The LTTE too have accused the government of using the ''deep penetration unit'' of the army of placing claymore mines in the areas controlled by them.
UNI XC ARB GC1545