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TNA, Sri Lanka government to resume talks

[Hindu, Wednesday, 14 September 2011 10:56 No Comment]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O Blake. File Photo: R. Ragu The Tamil National Alliance and the Sri Lankan government will resume talks on arriving at an acceptable political solution to the Tamils in the Northern province.

This was confirmed by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O Blake, at a press briefing here on Wednesday. He had earlier held discussions with a wide range of officials, the TNA, the opposition UNP, and had also met people in the northern province.

“I was very pleased to hear from both the government and the TNA that they will resume their important dialogue on devolution and other matters,” he said in a brief statement, ahead of answering questions. The dialogue will resume this week, he added.

The TNA-Government talks had broken down over the TNA’s demand that the government make it stand clear on the main issues of contention raised by the alliance, which had recently swept the local body polls in the northern and eastern province.

At the end of 10th round of talks in early August, the TNA called upon the Sri Lankan government to “meaningfully define and state” its stand on devolution to the Northern Province, and cited the lack of progress in its talks with the government for suspension of talks.

The government responded by saying that the TNA’s demand, taken in combination, encompasses almost the entirety of the issues involved in the discussion between the SLFP, the main political party of the government and the TNA. “It is certainly not possible, nor is it consistent with the national interest to make a final pronouncement on all these crucial issues, hastily and without wider consultation, at this stage,” it had added.

Asserting that a great deal needed to be done “to heal the wounds of war and ensure a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Sri Lanka,” Mr. Blake said that this required a national reconciliation process that included a “full, credible and independent accounting if and accountability for those who violated international humanitarian law.”

The U.S. hoped that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report, which has concluded its sittings, would address the allegations of human rights abuses during the end stages of the Eelam War IV. The abuses were outlined by the United Nations Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka. This document has been denounced in Sri Lanka.

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