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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Sri Lanka sets Tiger ban terms
Tamil Tiger rebels
The Tigers want an end to the ban before talks

The Sri Lankan Government says it will only consider lifting the ban on Tamil Tiger rebels once a firm date for peace talks is fixed.

Speaking to journalists, the government's spokesman, GL Peiris, said the two issues were linked, but he expected talks to take place in Thailand in either the last week of June or the first week of July.


Only after a firm date for talks is agreed will the issue of 'deproscription' be considered

GL Peiris
government spokesman
"The government's view is that the de-proscription is a matter in respect of which some action can be taken when there is clear agreement about a firm date on which the talks would commence in Thailand," he said.

The rebels signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in February and say they want to take part in peace talks as equal partners, not as an outlawed organisation.

The Sri Lankan Government says it is now in the process of arranging the dates of peace talks and the agenda for discussion with the help of Norwegian mediators.

Professor GL Peiris, who is likely to be included in the government team to the talks, said there would be three permanent members on the delegation and one revolving slot for an expert in whatever subject was being discussed.

He said there would also be additional advisers to the government delegation when needed.

Issues addressed

The talks are expected to be conducted for fairly short bursts of time - between three to five days at a go - in order to enable government delegates to attend to their routine ministerial work and the rebel side to consult with their leadership.

Professor Peiris said the government's view was that the talks agenda should be a comprehensive one, including all issues relevant to a solution to the conflict.

Tamil leader Prabhakaran (right) with Norwegian Major-General Trond Furuhovde in March 2002
Norway's envoys shuttle between the two sides
Some items, he said, would of course require urgent attention and early progress.

He said the Norwegians believed the quality of the agenda was the primary consideration and required meticulous preparation.

According to Professor Peiris, there has been agreement with the Tamil Tigers on a variety of matters pertaining to the agenda, but discussions were continuing between the two sides to finalise it.

He said a cluster of issues relating to the implementation of the ceasefire by both sides had now been addressed - namely the failure of the army to vacate schools and temples on time and reports of kidnappings of civilians by the rebels.


Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

29 May 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | South Asia
21 May 02 | South Asia
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