ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sri Lanka : Hopeful Turn


President Chandrika Kumaratunga's visit, ostensibly to restart movement towards a SAARC summit and to mark the successful launching of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, comes at a juncture when the long-drawn-out strife in the north of the country is poised to go into what may well be a phase of negotiations. While there is much cynicism about the process, it is undeniable that the two-year process initiated and persisted in through the Norwegian representative in Sri Lanka has a greater chance of success today than ever before. In the recent past India has played a supportive role in the process. Kumaratunga's low-key visit is likely to underline this understanding and to ensure its sustenance.

It is not of course the first time that the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government have agreed to come to the negotiating table. In the past, however, the equations have been a little different. Today the LTTE has been forced to offer a unilateral ceasefire beginning in December which was extended indefinitely just before Kumaratunga's India visit. Although the president has dismissed the ceasefire as a ploy like so many others in the past, saying that she would be unwilling to accept the LTTE's condition for beginning talks, viz, the withdrawal of troops, it has had its political impact internationally.

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