The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Sri Lanka to resume talks with LTTE if it lays down arms

After a two-year gap, Sri Lanka is ready to resume talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) if it lays down arms.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Saturday at the end of his two-day pilgrimage to the Tirupati Balaji temple here that the LTTE should give up terrorist activities and come to the negotiating table in the interest of the nation.

Stressing on government's intentions, he said it was the government which had been negotiating with the LTTE for the past 20 years expecting some positive outcome every time.

Negotiations were held even in Geneva, Oslo and Japan though there were instances when the LTTE walked out of the talks, he said.

Hinting that there was a change in the mood of Tamils, he said the election of a former LTTE leader as Chief Minister of the Eastern Province was an indication of this.

On India-Sri Lanka cooperation, Rajapaksa said New Delhi had always remained helpful to his country. "The relations between the two countries, I can say, are at their best." He had great admiration for the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and considered him as the greatest of all politicians.

Rajapaksa also talked about Indian fishermen and denied of their harassment by the Sri Lankan defence forces.

It was the LTTE which was forcibly taking away their boats and using them for the smuggling of arms. He said: "We even have reports from aerial surveillance squads to substantiate this."

The two sides had six rounds of talks after the 2002 ceasefire but the rebels pulled out in 2006. The peace process received a crushing blow in January when the government scrapped the tattered ceasefire, a move that unleashed a fresh wave of violence as the military intensified its offensive against the Tamil Tigers in the north.

Source: newkerala

Lankan navy again opens fire at Indian fishermen

For the second consecutive day, the Sri Lankan Navy allegedly opened unprovoked firing on Indian fishermen off the Nagappattinam coast, official sources said Sunday. No lives were lost in the firing. According to official sources, Lankan naval personnel opened fire on 100 fishermen in 30 boats and ripped off their nets, causing them to scamper ashore off Nagappattinam coast, 350 km from here.

On Saturday, two Indian fisherman were killed when a Sri Lankan Navy vessel allegedly opened fire on their fishing boat, a survivor of the incident said here.

The bodies of the fishermen were brought ashore after K. Murali, a fisherman injured in the shooting in the wee hours of Saturday, tipped off relatives on a mobile phone that his mates S. Vasagan and N. Narayanswamy were killed in “unprovoked” firing by the Sri Lankan Navy in the Palk Strait.

Though no lives were lost in Sunday’s firing, political leaders and activists cutting across party lines joined angry families of Saturday’s victims in demanding stringent action against the island’s navy.

AIADMK boss J. Jayalalithaa condemned the state and the central governments’ inaction and called for a compensation of Rs.500,000 for every victim’s family. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V. Thangkabalu told reporters here that he had written to Union Defence Minister A.K. Anthony, requesting the strengthening of protection to Indian citizens.

The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi announced a demonstration in Nagappattinam July 21 - ahead of a picketing protest by Communist Party of India outside the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission slated for July 30 here.

Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Bharatiya Janata Party also in their interactions with the press here condemned the incessant attacks by the Lankan defence personnel on Indian fishermen.

The ongoing indefinite strike by Rameshwaram fishermen protesting against similar attacks continued peacefully.

Sri Lankan diplomats could not be reached for comments.

Source: thaindian