Sri Lanka truce talks: Top military figures to represent government

Colombo, August 25:

Senior military personnel will represent the government at crucial peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels to review a fragile ceasefire, Sri Lanka’s government said today, as it urged world leaders to push the guerrillas to honour the truce. “We are speaking to world leaders about the necessity to put more pressure on the (Tamil Tigers), that the preservation of the ceasefire should not be limited to words but must be proved through actions,” government spokesman Nimal Siripala de Silva told reporters.

The ceasefire suffered a serious blow after the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar by suspected rebels on August 12. The announcement that senior military figures will attend the talks came a day after authorities rejected the rebels’ offer to hold negotiations in Norway. “The talks will be held at a senior military level,” Jayantha Dhanapala, the government’s top official handling the peace process told AP. “There is no question of our senior military personnel .... being out of the country at this critical stage of national security.” He said the military personnel had been authorised to conduct discussions on the practical implementation of the ceasefire agreement in order to prevent future killings. Meanwhile, a powerful Buddhist monk-led political party condemned the proposed talks. “The only reason the Tigers are willing to come for talks is because of the wide international condemnation after the assassination,” monk Ellawela Medananda told reporters.