President Mahinda Rajapaksa will next week embark on what analysts see as a significant visit to the Vatican to garner much needed international support for government efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict even as the co-chairs decided to adopt a `wait and see` policy on the future of a negotiated settlement.
The President`s visit to the Vatican comes just days after Pope Benedict XVI, in his Easter day message, called on the government and the LTTE to stop violence and resume talks. In his Easter message last Sunday, Pope Benedict called on Sri Lanka`s warring parties to return to negotiations to end violence.
`In Sri Lanka, only a negotiated solution can put an end to the conflict that causes so much bloodshed,` Pope Benedict said. `I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons,` he noted.
President Rajapaksa is scheduled to visit the Vatican on Wednesday for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on an invitation by the Papal Nuncio in Sri Lanka Archbishop Mario Zenari and it would be the first meeting between a Sri Lankan leader and the leader of the Roman Catholic church.
Public Estate Management and Development Minister Milroy Fernado told the Daily Mirror that the President would lead a delegation of Catholic Ministers and MPs including him, Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Dayasritha Tissera and several others.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is also expected to accompany the President.
The delegation is also to attend a special ceremony at the Vatican to mark the second anniversary of the pontification of Pope Benedict on April 19.
The government and the LTTE this week expressed willingness to resume peace talks but the co-chairs to the Tokyo Donor Conference have decided to adopt a `wait and see` approach with regard to the future of the peace process, the Daily Mirror learns.
Diplomatic sources said the decision was taken as the government and the Tigers were not showing a commitment to resume talks or stop human rights violations in the country. It is learnt that envoys of the United States, Japan, Norway and the European Union met at the US Ambassador`s official residence in Colombo on Tuesday evening and discussed several crucial issues, including the recruitment of under-aged children.
The envoys had also expressed their displeasure over the parties ignoring their repeated requests to resume peace talks and stop human rights violations. At the end of the discussions, the co-chairs had reportedly decided to inform their decisions to the international community.