Saturday, 25 January 2003  
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Govt. - LTTE Ceasefire Agreement

Government - Gazette

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Next round of peace talks in Berlin

The next round of negotiations between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam will be held in the German capital Berlin on the 7th and 8th of February, well placed sources said yesterday.

The talks were earlier scheduled to be held in Thailand but the LTTE's Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham is not fit to travel that far from his home in Britain, the Norwegian government said in a statement issued on Thursday.

AFP news service reported that the German government had offered to host the talks after the Norwegian facilitators sought an alternate venue that would cut down the amount of travel Balasingham has to undertake.

The duration of the talks has also been reduced to two days from the earlier scheduled four days, mostly because Balasingham has not been able to confer with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran since the last round of discussions were held in Thailand earlier this month.

Balasingham was unable to go to the Vanni to see his leader because floods in the region and a danger of catching an infection. He has had a kidney transplant and therefore his immune system is weak.

The next round of talks will see the participation of former head of the Human rights watchdog Amnesty International Ian Martin. At the talks, the negotiators are expected to work out a way of monitoring human rights violations.

Both sides have agreed to ensure that no rights violations take place while the talks are on. Official sources said that the mechanism to monitor rights violations will be similar to that which is monitoring the ceasefire agreement.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission which monitors the CFA entertains complaints from either side as well as the public and makes public pronouncements about it's findings.

Human Rights violations will cover abductions, extortion, disappearances of people, intimidation of political opponents and child conscription.

Observers of the peace process say that the monitoring of rights violations will help develop a healthier culture for peace to take root after many years of war.

The government's chief negotiator, Minister professor G.L. Peiris has said that the talks have not been downgraded in anyway although the duration has been shortened.

The government negotiating team is also likely to make use of the opportunity to have meetings with the German government during this period. They are expected to discuss matters relating to the upcoming Sri Lanka donors meeting to be held in Japan in March.

Germany sent a ministerial representation to the earlier Peace Support meeting held in Oslo, Norway in November.

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