Saturday, 22  February 2003  
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Significant change in LTTE position on disarmament - Prof. Peiris

The government yesterday noted a "significant change" in the position of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that was articulated in the editorial of the Tigers' official newspaper, the Tamil Guardian over the disarmament of its cadres.

The Tamil Guardian in its most recent editorial has said that "On the issue of the disarming of its cadres, the LTTE has unequivocally stated this can only be addressed as part of a permanent political settlement that guarantees the physical safety and security of the Tamil people."

This is a shift from its previous position that disarmament would take place only after the final peace settlement is reached.

The Tamil Guardian editorial was a belated response to the statement made by United States' peace initiative, Deputy Director Secretary of State Richard Armitage last week that the LTTE "must [however] publicly and unequivocally renounce terrorism and prove that its days of violence are over."

He also pointed out that disarmament issues would 'logically' have to follow.

The government's Chief Negotiator Minister Professor G.L. Peiris said, "a close examination of the editorial shows a significant shift in position," when he addressed businessmen at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Colombo.

Professor Peiris said that the peace process has caused the LTTE to engage the international community and deal with it.

He said that the US has been "able to look the LTTE in the eye" and tell it that it should follow international norms.

Armitage held out the promise of de-banning if the Tigers complied with these norms.

The editorial said "whilst opponents of the LTTE would seize upon Mr. Armitage's comments as renewed criticism of the movement, a close examination of the US policy in fact suggests a convergence with the LTTE's position."

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