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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 17:56 GMT
Sri Lankan PM rebukes president
Tamil family in high security Jaffna region
Rebel broadcasts have been limited to the north
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has rebuked President Chandrika Kumaratunga for criticising the actions of Norway in its role as peace broker with Tamil rebels.

President Kumaratunga had protested strongly at Norway's delivery of radio equipment to the Tamil Tigers.

Tamil Tiger fighters in northern Sri Lanka
The rebels appear to be preparing for peace
Mr Wickramasinghe, in his first public warning to Mrs Kumaratunga since he defeated her party in December 2001 elections, told her not to antagonise Norway.

Norway said it had acted ''in full understanding with the Sri Lankan Government in this case''.

Mrs Kumaratunga had lodged her protest against Norwegian envoy Jon Westborg in a four-page letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Kijell Magne Bondevik.

She accused Mr Westborg of violating Sri Lanka's customs regulations and diplomatic norms by being the "consignee" for radio transmitting equipment ordered by the Tigers.

PM's tribute

Mr Wickramasinghe replied with a five-page letter to the president.

In it he paid tribute to Mr Westborg, adding: "I think as a government we should exercise due care at this critical stage in the peace process, to ensure that the enthusiasm of the Norwegian facilitation and the momentum thus far generated continues undiminished."

President Chandrika Kumaratunga
The president protested over the transmitter

The Tamil rebels plan to extend their radio broadcasts into government-controlled regions for the first time since the war began.

A pro-rebel website says the Tigers will start broadcasting programmes into regions outside their control from 16 January.

Reaching the majority community in their own language using high-quality radio programmes would be a publicity coup.

Correspondents say the Tigers have realised the importance of gaining Sinhalese support for a peaceful resolution of the two-decade civil war.

Developing a sympathetic audience among the majority community is thought to be crucial to the Tigers' plans to transform their group into a political, rather than military, organisation.


Peace efforts

Background

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TALKING POINT
See also:

02 Jan 03 | South Asia
01 Jan 03 | South Asia
30 Dec 02 | South Asia
26 Dec 02 | South Asia
05 Dec 02 | South Asia
31 Oct 02 | South Asia
16 Sep 02 | South Asia
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