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Martin McGuinness Meets Tamil Tiger Leadership In Sri Lanka

3 July, 2006

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness today met the senior political leadership of the Tamil Tigers in the rebel controlled north of Sri Lanka. Mr McGuinness‚ visit had not been announced in advance of this meeting but has the support of the Sri Lanka President.

Speaking after his meeting, Martin McGuinness said:

"Today's meeting was the primary purpose of my visit to Sri Lanka. In January, I visited the country and met the President and his senior Minister and officials. I also met Tamil representatives and Tamil members of Parliament. Unfortunately, I was not able to travel to the north to meet the LTTE directly at that time for logistical resons. I therefore welcome the opportunity to engage directly with the leadership of the Tamil Tigers.

During my meeting, I urged the LTTE leadership to re-engage in the stalled negotiations and pointed out the need to build a credible peace process as an alternative to the escalating conflict. I was able to share with the Tamil leadership the experiences of the Irish Peace Process and emphasised the need for courageous political leadership in the search for a honourable accommodation from which all sides will benefit.

I asked both the government and the Tamil Tigers to take decisive initiatives to build the peace process. I am convinced that there is the will on both sides to find a resolution but that increasing conflict is making the peace efforts more and more difficult. My core message was that both sides need to act decisively to prevent the downward spiral into all out conflict. The reality is that, just as in Ireland, there can be no military victory and that the only alternative to endless conflict is dialogue, negotiations and accommodation.

Sinn Fein will continue to play any role that we can to assist the peace process in Sri Lanka".


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