|Thursday, 24 January 2002|
by our Parliament Corrospondent
People's Alliance National list MP and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lakshman Kadirgamar yesterday extended his party's co-operation to moves taken by the government leading to peace talks with the LTTE.
The PA would not place road blocks in the government's endeavours in proceeding towards talks Kadirgamar said in Parliament opening the adjournment debate on the Prime Minister's policy statement. He equally cautioned that the PA will not remain silent if the necessity arises to speak out in clear terms in the national interest.
Kadirgamar said he was making his statement with the full authority of the President and PA Parliament Group.In a situation where it is not clear what the LTTE wants at the stage of substantive talks he asked political parties not to dwell on hypothetical issues but reserve their judgement until such time.
Mr. Kadirgamar who went on to trace history of peace initiatives under the PA government until all contact ceased in April 2001 commended Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's resolve to reactivate the peace process and of accepting the strategy of lifting the economic embargo as adopted by President Kumaratunga in 1995.
He said the PA relaxed the embargo from 28 items to seven noting that the government had started from this point which was a good augury Mr. Kadirgamar pointed out nine points to elaborate PA's position in the peace process. They are:
The PA welcomes the Government's decision to organise the free flow of goods into the Wanni and particularly welcomes the Prime Minister's acknowledgement that this was due to plans made by the PA Government during April last year.
The People's Alliance notes that once again as in December 2000, the LTTE unilaterally declared a ceasefire without prior information to the government of Sri Lanka or the government of Norway.
The People's Alliance would have welcomed the mutually agreed cessation of hostility as occurred in 1994, nevertheless welcomes and supports the government's decision to respond by declaring a unilateral ceasefire of its own.
The People's Alliance urges the Government to work expeditiously on the conclusion of an agreement for a mutually agreed islandwide permanent cessation of hostilities which should include in particular provision for international monitoring, the right of the Navy to intercept illegal arms shipments and the right of the Air Force to assist the Navy in such operations at sea and an Article prohibiting sabotage assassinations and acts against civilian targets.
It should be noted that a cessation of hostilities is wider and therefore more desirable than a ceasefire as it covers hostile operations throughout the country and not only on the battle field.
The PA welcomes the Prime Ministers statement that talks between the Government and the LTTE should be held within a definite time frame as this was also the intention of the PA Government.
The PA notes the Prime Minister's statement that since the September 11th attack on New York, the LTTE is under pressure to give up terrorism and the armed struggle for a political solution as a result. In the light of this statement a time frame for the talks should be fixed as the post September climate of opinion prevails.
While supporting all measures taken by the Government to get the proposed talks moving the People's Alliance must of necessity reserve its opinion on the substantial issues that the talks would have to deal with until such issues are identified and clarified.
In this connection, the People's Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister's statement that action will be taken to brief the other political parties that these matters are clear.
That is something that I would particularly commend in the Prime Minister's statement. Wide and timely consultation is necessary when we come to deal it with the big issues involved. This is an area which perhaps the previous government has not done as successfully as they should have done.
On the basis of past experience the People's Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister's view that the Security Forces should be in a state of alert. The People's Alliance urges the government to implement this view in all seriousness so as to allay public apprehension on that score.
Finally, on the question of deproscription of the LTTE, the PA notes the Prime Minister's view that deep thought is necessary over this matter. It urges the Prime Minister to bear in mind the international practice on the question of proscription in the base of impending talks and the widely held view throughout the country that precipitate action on that question should be avoided.
Produced by Lake House