The Co-chairs (US, EU, Japan and facilitator Norway) want the Sri Lankan government to offer a better political package to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the north-east conflict.
They are of the view that the SLFP proposal to confine devolution to the district level would be insufficient.
This assessment was recently conveyed to President Mahinda Rajapakse by German Ambassador Juergen Weerth. Germany held the rotating presidency of the EU at the time of the meeting.
The Temple Trees meeting took place against the backdrop of the recent meeting of Co-chairs in Oslo when they decided to push for a negotiated settlement to the conflict and mandated the German Ambassador to present their viewpoint to Colombo.
Ambassador Weerth recently briefed President Rajapakse on the outcome of the Oslo meeting with Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona resent at the discussion.
The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere a week before the fall of Thoppigala, the last LTTE stronghold in the Eastern Province.
`It was a constructive meeting without any pressure being exerted on Sri Lanka,` a well informed political source said. `The Co-chairs encouraged us to look for a peaceful settlement and to facilitate that with the offer of a better political package.`
They had called for a ``reasonable package,`` implying that the package recently unveiled by the SLFP was inadequate.
This source emphasized that the SLFP proposals should not be viewed as that of the government.
`They are not final and there is always the opportunity to improve them,` another official said.
According to these sources the decision to permit the outgoing Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Hans Brattskar, to visit Kilinochchi was not taken at the meeting between the President and the German Ambassador.
`That decision was made earlier,` a senior foreign ministry official said.
The official dismissed claims that the German Ambassador had a secret meeting with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to map out a strategy against Rajapakse`s administration.
The ambassador briefed the UNP leader about the outcome of the recent co-chairs` meeting in Oslo. The meeting which took place at a Japanese restaurant triggered a blistering attack on the Ambassador by Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.
The UNP recently declared that the SLFP`s proposals were unrealistic and that the government must come out with a set of realistic political proposals.
While reiterating the UNP`s commitment to the concept of one nation with adequate devolution of power to the provinces, the major opposition party believes that the province should be the unit of devolution.
The question of the merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province should be left for resolution at direct negotiations with the LTTE, the UNP says.
Mr. K.N. Choksy, the UNP`s constitutional expert, in a letter to Prof. Tissa Vitarana, the head of the All Party Representative Committee, has pointed out that the SLFPs coalition partners in the government have rejected the SLFP proposals.
He said in this letter that the UNP would await a period of six weeks to enable the SLFP to place before the APRC the common proposals of the government ? that is of the SLFP and its coalition partners - on the core issues relevant to the settlement of the ethnic dispute.