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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Sri Lanka denies peace snags
Tamil girl carrying a baby in Jaffna
Civilians are desperate for an end to conflict

The Sri Lankan Government has denied that the peace process has hit problems, saying there is merely a slight delay.

Tiger leader Prabhakaran (R) with Norwegian monitoring mission head
Rebels are said to be applying last-minute pressure
This follows an editorial in a pro-Tamil Tiger rebel newspaper which stated that the process was in the doldrums because the government had failed to implement the cease-fire agreement fully.

Observers say it looks as if the rebel side is putting pressure on the government to gain as much as it can before talks start.

Government spokesman GL Peiris admitted there were certain residual problems to be worked out with the Tamil Tigers but said he was not unduly concerned about the delay.

Date uncertain

Mr Peiris was the one who first said the peace talks would take place in May, then June, and then July.

But now he says the obsession with the date for talks is immature and puerile.

The government says it is committed to honouring the cease-fire agreement it signed with the Tigers in full and the Prime Minister met with ministers, civil servants and the army and police on Wednesday to speed up implementation.

The government also plans a series of meetings with opposition politicians on how best to handle the peace talks.

But there have been signs of discontent in pro-rebel newspapers, with the London-based Tamil Guardian saying in its editorial that the much hyped peace talks are not expected any time soon.

Risky strategy

The Tigers are unhappy about the government's failure to implement all the provisions of the cease-fire agreement.

But the government has now promised to investigate cases of public buildings that have not yet been vacated by the army.

Meanwhile, officials believe they have largely attended to the issue of lifting restrictions on fishing.

It looks very much as if the rebel side is trying to strike a hard bargain and force the government to honour its promises not just in part but in full.

It is a strategy that has achieved results so far, but there is the risk the delay will mean the peace process loses momentum and the anti-peace lobby gains ground.

For its part the government has yet to mete out the same treatment to the rebels who are said by some to be violating one clause of the cease-fire agreement by allegedly extorting money from civilians.


Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

11 Jun 02 | South Asia
04 Jun 02 | South Asia
30 May 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | South Asia
31 May 02 | Business
21 Feb 02 | South Asia
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