Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Government and LTTE to meet World Bank officials

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Government and LTTE representatives will meet officials World Bank in Colombo today to discuss making the maximum use of the funds obtained at the Oslo donor conference in December.
Cabinet spokesman Prof G.L Peiris said yesterday that during the discussions, the two parties will draw up plans on how the funds should be used with the World Bank which has been selected as the custodian of the funds.

"At the Oslo conference attended only by the bilateral donors the government received funds worth 85 million US$ and the objective of tomorrow's discussion is to decide on ways of using these funds for development."

"The Oslo donor conference was expected to deliver a strong political message which we think has achieved its target. Great Britain and Switzerland has substantially increased their assistance to Sri Lanka this year," Minister Peiris said. The Minister said the government is expecting a much larger chunk of assistance through the Tokyo donor conference is scheduled from June 16 to 17 since multinational donors like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund will also be represented.

The Japanese Government is now making preparations to ensure that maximum benefit is derived from this conference. "The funds will be used to develop the country as a whole. It will not be confined to a particular region."

The Minister said the development work will be paralleled by resettlement activities in the North and East. Seven government officials held discussions with the LTTE in Jaffna a few days ago on rehabilitation and resettlement issues. They were accompanied by several representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) who will assist the two parties in tackling the issue of returning IDPs.

The working of the Sub committee on urgent Humanitarian Needs and Resettlement will also be given priority in the agenda for the fifth round of peace talks which will held in Berlin from February 7 to 8.

"Changes have made to the venue and the duration of the talks in February owing to the fragile health of LTTE head of delegation Dr. Anton Balasingham and his need to have extensive consultations with the LTTE leadership on the matters to be discussed at the negotiations," Prof Peiris said.

Accordingly, the February talks will be limited to two days where the parties will take up crucial issues on resettlement and prepare a programme for safeguarding human rights during and after the negotiations in the presence of former Amnesty International Chief Ian Martin.

The proposed Federal system will also be discussed in detail.

Dr. Anton Balasingham is expected to meet the LTTE leader following the Berlin talks. In view of the reduced duration this month, the March Peace talks will be a lengthy session, the Cabinet spokesman said. MF\RM