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We did not agree to talk to LTTE: Sri Lankan minister

Source: PTI
September 13, 2006 12:24 IST
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A Sri Lankan minister, on Wednesday, denied that the government had agreed to unconditional talks with Tamil Tiger rebels and slammed peace broker Norway for making a premature announcement.

Policy Planning Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, who is also the government's defence spokesman, said they were surprised by remarks by Norway's top peace envoy Erik Solheim that the parties had agreed to talks without pre-conditions.

Solheim announced at a meeting of Sri Lanka's key aid donors in Brussels on Tuesday that Colombo and Tiger rebels were ready for talks without any conditions.

He said a meeting could be arranged in the first week of October in Oslo.

Rambukwella accused Solheim of misleading the international community and the public. 'To the surprise of the government, Solheim is reported to have announced that the talks would take place in Oslo', Rambukwella said in a statement.

'The government neither agreed to unconditional talks nor was consulted', he added.

The donor meeting of US, Japan, European Union and Norway -- the four entities known as co-chairs, welcomed the proposed talks and asked both sides to immediately de-escalate violence.

'The Co-Chairs welcome the expression of willingness of the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to come to talks unconditionally as conveyed to the Facilitator', the co-chairs said in a statement.

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