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APC harbinger for early resumption of talks - Tamil parties

TAMIL political parties which attended Thursday's All Party Conference (APC) lauded President Mahinda Rajapakse's sincere commitment towards resolving the ethnic problem through the negotiatory process and expressed optimism that peace talks will be back on track before too long with the unanimous support the President received from all participants.

They said that in the context of both the current volatile situation in the country and the consensus received at the APC, the Government should resume the talks without sparing valuable time to discuss minor issues.

The Daily News spoke to leaders of the Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC), Up-Country People's Front (UPF), Western People's Front (WPF) and the Eelam People Democratic Party (EPDP), which is a constituent of the ruling UPFA.

CWC stalwart and former Minister Muthu Sivalingam MP said:

"At the APC all Sinhala and Tamil parties welcomed President Mahinda Rajapakse's move and were unanimous in their view that the peace process should be resumed as early as possible, although the JVP and JHU differed on other minor issues.

As far as we are concerned, the resumption of the peace process should not be delayed or obstructed due to differences over the venue.

The President should take a resolute decision on all such matters and should convince the parties concerned on the urgent need for resuming the talks."

UPF leader and former Minister Periyasamy Chandrasekaran MP said:

"We whole-heartedly welcome the President's move in convening the APC. All political parties that attended the APC expressed their consensus on the need for resuming the peace process.

But if all aspects of the peace process are to be discussed at length at future APCs, it might lead to a state of uncertainty, thus delaying the peace process indefinitely.

Therefore on the strength of the consensus expressed by all political parties, the President should make the next move to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table.

"The message that the APC has conveyed to the people is that the peace process should resume. So at this stage, no political party or political group should be allowed to convey views against the peace process.

The President should exercise his executive powers to make sure that lasting peace is restored in the country. The controversy over the venue for the talks should not be an obstacle."

WPF leader Mano Ganeshan MP said: "We appreciate the President's thoughtfulness in inviting us for the APC. The whole exercise was meant for bringing a consensus among the Southern political parties, especially the national political parties.

We would only be playing a side-role in persuading the UPFA, its constituents and the UNP in arriving at a viable arrangement so that a proposal for resuming the talks can be forwarded to the LTTE.

"We fervently hope that the President will be successful in forwarding such a proposal to the LTTE before long. With regard to the venue for the talks, we consider Oslo as most suitable because Norway was officially invited by our Government to play the mediatory role.

The Government can consider shifting the venue of talks to other places after holding the first round of talks in Oslo."

EPDP spokesman and former MP S. Thavarajah:

"The APC is a healthy start towards resuming the peace process and resolving the national ethnic problem. As always we are for peace and harmony in the country and we will extend our fullest support to the President in his efforts towards that end."

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