Several attempts made by the ceasefire monitors to inspect the LTTE`s airstrip at Iranamadu in Kilinochchi have failed as the LTTE is refusing access, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission chief Hagrup Haukland said.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said Mr. Haukland made this statement at a meeting attended by Defence Secretary Asoka Jayawardane, Chief of Defence Staff Daya Sandagiri, Air Force Commander Donald Perera and IGP Chandra Fernando.
The SLMM chief told the defence top brass that when his monitors contacted the LTTE and wanted to visit the airstrip at Kilinochchi, the LTTE had strongly refused on at least four occasions, giving several reasons.
`The LTTE had turned down the SLMM request citing security reasons and also land mine threats `, the Ministry spokesman said.
The SLMM Chief revealed this when the Defence Secretary and other top officials inquired whether the SLMM had queried about the airstrip from the LTTE. However the SLMM Chief had promised that the monitors would try to enter the area for an inspection soon.
Mr. Haukland was also informed that as the government saw the airstrip as a major threat to the country, President Kumaratunga wanted immediate action in this regard.
The government came to know about the LTTE`s airstrip and air capability on January 12 this year. Soon after the Air Force launched an investigation and confirmed the LTTE had the air capability as well as a 1.2 kilometres length of runway.
President Kumaratunga had then written to Norway`s Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik regarding the issue and wanted immediate steps taken on the matter. She had submitted a set of colour pictures of the airstrip as well as that of an aircraft. Later the Norwegian Premier sent his peace envoy Erik Solheim to London to meet LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham.
At the meeting Mr. Balasingham had assured Mr. Solheim the Sri Lankan government`s concern was unfounded and pointed out that the airstrip had been in existence even before the February 2002 ceasefire.
The Government has briefed several foreign countries including India and the United States on the latest threat to the country.