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 Post subject: Akashi in India as Sri Lanka boils
 Post Posted: Wed May 10, 2006 10:12 pm 
Akashi in India as Sri Lanka boils

Copyright © IndiaeNews.com.
Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

New Delhi - Japan’s special envoy to Sri Lanka Yasushi Akashi arrived here Wednesday for talks with Indian leaders after failing to persuade the Tamil Tigers to return to the table in Geneva.

Akashi will hold talks with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran Thursday before going home.

He flew in from Sri Lanka where he met President Mahindra Rajapakse and S.P. Thamilchelvan, the political wing chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran refused to meet Akashi in what was widely seen as a snub to the co-chairs to Sri Lanka’s peace process that includes, besides Japan, the US, the European Union and Norway, the peace facilitator.

Akashi is expected to give a detailed brief to Narayanan and Saran about his four-day mission to Sri Lanka that failed to break new ground. He will not meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Akashi travelled to LTTE-held Kilinochchi town Tuesday to urge the Tigers to take part in the second round of the Geneva peace talks that were due in April but got indefinitely postponed amid spiralling violence.

LTTE’s Thamilchelvan told Akashi that Colombo needed to ensure peace in the island’s northeast if the Tigers were to return to the negotiation table. If this was not done, he warned, Sri Lanka would face ‘doom’.

India would be interested in knowing Akashi’s impressions of the conflict situation in Sri Lanka where unending killings and counter-killings have almost spiked the 2002 Norway-brokered ceasefire agreement.

While not a direct player, India is in close touch with all the concerned countries. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met Manmohan Singh as he ended a three-day trip to New Delhi Wednesday.

On April 5, Norwegian minister and peace facilitator Erik Solheim passed through New Delhi on his way from Nepal.

Akashi last came to New Delhi in November 2004, just before tsunami hit Sri Lanka including the northeast.

According to diplomatic sources, Japan is very concerned over the Sri Lanka situation and is keen that there should no resumption of war - a feeling shared by India as well.

Sri Lanka and LTTE met in Geneva in February, but further discussions in April were called off over a row over the issue of transporting the Tigers’ regional commanders from the island’s east to north.

Japan, which hosted an international donors’ meet on Sri Lanka in 2003, was to hold another gathering this year. But this got postponed due to the breakdown of the Geneva talks.

When Japan’s involvement in the peace process began in 2002, India was initially wary of Tokyo’s role in a South Asian conflict. Since then, however, Japan has managed to satisfy India’s concerns.

Japan thinks that economic aid can play a strong if not dominant role in a resolution of Sri Lanka’s decades old ethnic conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and shows no signs of ending.

International donors have pledged $4.5 billion for reconstruction and rehabilitation of Sri Lanka’s war-torn northeast, parts of which are controlled by the LTTE.

Copyright © IndiaeNews.com.

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