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Press Release
Government of Norway
September 3, 2002

The facilitator in the Sri Lankan peace process, Norway announced that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ideologue and chief negotiator Aton Balasingham and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress SLMC) leader and Cabinet Minister Rauf Hakeem met in London, on September 3, 2002. They are believed to have discussed the relations between Tamils and Muslims, especially in the background of clashes between the two communities in the last week of June 2002. Relations between the two communities have been uneasy since several years, and they had earlier, too, clashed. Presented below is the text of the Press Release issued by Norway

"On September 3rd 2002, a meeting was held between the chief negotiator for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Anton Balasingham, and leader of Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, Minister Rauf Hakeem. Balasingham was accompanied by his wife Adele.

"Mr. Hakeem and Mr. Balasingham discussed matters related to the upcoming talks in Thailand between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. It was agreed that Mr. Hakeem will take part in the first round of talks as a member of the government delegation, in his capacity as being the leader of the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress. It was further agreed that Mr. Hakeem will participate in future rounds of talks as the leader of the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress as well as the head of a Muslim delegation representing the Muslim community. This is in accordance with the memorandum of understanding between the LTTE and the SLMC signed April 13th.

"The SLMC leader and the LTTE chief negotiator also touched upon matters related to the present situation in the north and east and to the status of the cease-fire agreement. They agreed that a new broader meeting between the LTTE-leadership and the SLMC will be held in the Vanni after the first round of talks in Thailand.

"The meeting was held in a constructive and cordial atmosphere. The session lasted for two hours.

"The meeting took place at the Norwegian ambassadorial residence in London. Special Advisor Erik Solheim, one of the Norwegian facilitators, was present as observer."







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