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A-9 road will be re-opened when the LTTE renounce terrorism

Sri Lanka News

Head of the government delegation at the Geneva 2 talks Minster Nimal Siripala de Silva says the government is ready to re-open the A-9 highway if the LTTE assures to refrain from any violence against the Security forces and the civilians. Unlike in the previous occasions, the Mister underscored the requirement of the LTTE to prove its genuine commitment to the ceasefire agreement in action rather than keeping its promises to mere words.

The Minister made these comments when he met with the media personnel at a media conference held in Colombo today (Tuesday the 31st of October) . The conference was held to inform the outcomes of the peace talks held between the LTTE and the government on the 28th and 29th of October in Geneva.

The Minister said that the LTTE has pledged before the international community to stay away from violence.

Explaining the government stance over re-opening of Jaffna- Kandy (A-9) highway, the Minister said,

"We have no intention of closing the A-9 highway; I emphatically emphasized that fact, This is only a temporary closure"

"If the things return to normalcy, then we should be in a position to reopen, but they (The LTTE) have to give the assurance , that they will not use that (the A-9 road) for terrorist activities.

Minister also said that the LTTE wanted the A-9 to be reopened before the talks "They (the LTTE) said that they are agreeable to the talks but they will come to the talks only after the opening of this particular check point (Muhamalai).

Despite the failure of the both parties to reach an agreement on the next rounds of talks, the Minister pointed out it was a "plus point" of the peace talks as a political solution was discussed for the first time.

"The government delegation explained in detail the manner of the approach taken by the government and the background work done in the south, bringing the southern consensus together in order to evolve constitutional processes and in order to evolve a model of devolution which would be acceptable for the south, north and the east"

The minister also added that the LTTE has commended the agreement reached by the two main political parties in the south

The LTTE agreed to participate for the peace talks unconditionally before its delegation leave the country. The government had hopes to discuss seven core issues which are directly related to the legitimate grievances of the Tamil people with the LTTE. However, once again, the LTTE imposed a condition for the government and turned its back at the opportunity for finding a negotiated settlement, demanding the re-opening of the A-9 road.

Defence analysts say that the A-9 highway was a goldmine for the LTTE in that it used to rake in millions of rupees a day by way of ransoms from those who used it. The road also stood the LTTE in good stead in the transportation of warlike material.

Further, the behavior of the LTTE at the peace talks has so far indicated its immaturity for participating in a diplomatic process by continuously putting forward various demands and stating that it would not participate for the talks unless the demands are granted without any compromise.

The editor of a prominent local newspaper, "The Island" has commented on the outcome of the recent peace talks as follows.

The biggest threat to global democracy emanates not so much from terrorism but the leniency of the democratic nations towards some terrorist groups. While negotiations are the best way to resolve a conflict, and war must be rejected, any attempt by a group, which has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by many leading nations, to hijack a peace process must be thwarted. Unfortunately, the LTTE is today in a position to dictate terms not only to the Sri Lankan government but military super powers - which is perhaps more worrisome than the collapse of talks.



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