The leader of the Sri Lankan delegation, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva shook hands with the ailing LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham during the opening ceremony at the Chateau de Bossey in Celigney.
Under heavy security checks for journalists the opening remarks were delivered by Mr Urs Ziswiler, the political affairs director, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. He welcomed the two delegations and wished well for the Sri Lankan talks, expressing his gratitude to the Norwegian government and Minister Eric Solheim in particular.
During his address in the context of the CFA he stated `let me mention the particular importance of respect for human rights in the peace process`. When he stated this he was in particular looking at the LTTE delegation and one could not help but wonder if he was referring to the LTTE about its abysmal human rights record.
He ended by stating that he hoped that the spirit of Geneva will be conducive to the talks and that Switzerland will always be available to support the peace process.
Minister Eric Solheim also spoke and stated that one should not be too optimistic, but to have realistic expectations from the talks.
The Norwegians and the Swiss handled the entire process sensitively with diplomatic protocol to create a conducive environment for both parties.
The LTTE delegation looked nervous. Tamilselvam did not have his trademark smile and it seem that they were under some pressure. Balasingham looked particularly unwell and he was shaking, perhaps a sign of his state of health and effects of medication.
The press will be allowed in back to the Chateau tomorrow (Thursday) evening for a press conference.