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Govt committed to negotiated settlement - Foreign Minister

MATARA: In spite of the LTTE using the waters of Mavilaru as a weapon, the Government hopes to solve problems through negotiation, said Ports, Aviation and Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the Matara District SLFP Executive Council and Southern Provincial Council Members' meeting held at Co-operative Auditorium, Matara, recently.

Addressing the meeting, Minister Samaraweera said that the SLFP has won all the elections since 1994 other than the General Election of 2001. The SLFP defeated the UNP which ruled the country for 17 years since 1977. In 1994 the SLFP Government survived with a majority of a single vote in Parliament because the Speaker elected that time was K.B. Ratnayake who equated the imbalance in Parliamentary power.

It was President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who led the party for several victories. During her tenure of office from 1994 to 2000 the majority of portfolio as well as the largest quantity of financial allocations were given to the Southern Province.

He said that the challenges facing President Mahinda Rajapaksa are many and enormous. He entered the office of Presidency only eight months ago. He cannot overcome all these challenges within such a short period. Prices of petroleum are liable to further rise owing to the Lebanon War resulting in further rising of the cost of living. Within this short span of time this Government increased salaries on two occasions. Ongoing demands are not for salary increase but relate to salary anomalies.

Our Government has proved to the international community that LTTE is not a party of liberators but a terrorist group. The European Union's decision to ban the LTTE as a terrorist outfit is a triumph gained by us. Tigers are now demanding a war using Mavilaru waters as a weapon.

They are pushing us towards war. But the Government is not going to wage war. What the Government is presently doing is a performance of its duty by the people to safeguard their legitimate rights for water and protect the people from aggressors. That is not war. We in the Cabinet will strengthen the President's hand, emphasised Minister Samaraweera.

Matara District SLFP Executive Council General Secretary and former Southern Province Chief Minister H.G. Sirisena also spoke.

Southern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Wijaya Dahanayaka, Council Members Manoj Sirisena, Sasindra Handunge, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Bindu Weerasinghe and Danny Abeywickrema were participated.

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