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Ranil - Karu talks fail

COLOMBO: Yesterday's make or break meeting between UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and its former Deputy Karu Jayasuriya failed with the two leaders refusing to compromise over burning issues. Senior UNP sources said the talks, which did not last more than an hour, failed without the duo reaching common ground to the issues that led to the current rift in the party. Sources said they agreed to meet again but a date was not fixed for a future meeting. The decisive meeting, between the Opposition Leader and the dissident group chief, termed as an ultimate bid to salvage the party by the political analysts, started around 6 yesterday at Sirikotha.

The Opposition Leader was to inform of his latest stance over the reform proposals insisted by the dissidents at this formal exchange but the actual contents of the talks agenda was not immediately known. Nearly 20 UNP members are poised to cross over to the Government later this month and reports indicated that many dissidents have confirmed their cross-over even before yesterday's meeting at the UNP headquarters.

Some of the members have expressed willingness to abandon the UNP altogether and join the SLFP while the majority will extend their support to the Government remaining as a separate group. The cross-overs, if more than 21, could result in a demotion in the UNP's current standing as the main Opposition.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake on Sunday said the meeting would see Wickremesinghe seeking a direct clarification from Jayasuriya if he would agree to work in accordance with the

Executive Committee decisions on the party reform proposals. Government sources said the deal with the dissidents is already sealed and the new Cabinet with the UNP members is to be sworn in before the end of this month on an auspicious day.

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