Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said the information that talks between the government and the LTTE would be held shortly was mere speculation.
Answering a question by The Island why the government and the President were giving in to the LTTE and Norway that want talks to commence a few days after the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Samaraweera said, `The President and the Government are committed to a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Sri Lanka.
However, there is no confirmation of talks between the Government and the LTTE. It is mere speculation.`
Earlier reports, quoting Norwegian facilitators, said that the LTTE had agreed to sit down for talks with the government to review the ceasefire agreement of February 2003 as well as its implementation. Reports said the talks would be held in Oslo within two weeks.
Critics of the government have already expressed their opposition to the talks. They claim it a ploy by the LTTE to escape the wrath of international community and the people of Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the assassination of Kadirgamar. When asked whether the government had increased the security of the SLFP`s Presidential Candidate, Premier Mahinda Rajapakse, Minister Samaraweera answered in the affirmative.
`Yes, we have increased the Prime Minister`s security because he is a front runner in the presidential elections.` He added that the Prime Minister was expected to travel widely and address the people during his campaign.