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Address by Tej Bunnag, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand, at the Inaugural Conference of the Sri Lanka Peace Talks, Sattahip, Thailand, September 16, 2002

For the fourth time in the protracted history of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels entered into negotiations to find a solution to the various demands of the Tamil people. The first round of the peace talks that commenced on September 16, 2002 is being hosted by Thailand at Sattahip. Norway is the facilitator in the peace talks. Earlier in the year, in February, Norway has brokered a ‘cease-fire agreement’ between the two parties. The first round will conclude on September 18 and it is expected that the two sides would be meeting for many more rounds of talks over the coming months.

Presented below is the full text of the Address by Tej Bunnag, Permanent Secretary, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentleman,

On behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I wish to warmly welcome H.E. Professor G L Peiris, Minister for Constitutional Affairs and leader of the delegation of the Government of Sri Lanka; H.E. Mr. Anton Balasingham, Chief Negotiator and leader

of the delegation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; and H.E. Mr. Vidar Helgesen, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, and their respective delegations to Thailand.

On behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I wish to warmly welcome H.E. Professor G L Peiris, Minister for Constitutional Affairs and leader of the delegation of the Government of Sri Lanka; H.E. Mr. Anton Balasingham, Chief Negotiator and leader of the delegation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; and H.E. Mr. Vidar Helgesen, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, and their respective delegations to Thailand.

For almost two decades, the world has been saddened by the strife in Sri Lanka, whose cost in terms of lost lives and destroyed properties have been tragic. Earlier this year, therefore, we joined the world community in welcoming the news of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, and, subsequently, the start of the political dialogue which would hopefully lead to a resolution of the conflict.

The Royal Thai Government was thereafter honoured to be able to respond positively to the Royal Norwegian Government's request to provide the venue for the Sri Lankan peace talks. We are pleased to contribute to the cause of peace in the international community and to make a modest contribution to a part of the world whence came our script, our beliefs and so much of our culture. We believe that peace and harmony in Sri Lanka would contribute to peace and harmony in Asia at a time when Thailand has recently launched the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, which inaugurated a new era in Asia-wide cooperation stretching from western Asia through South Asia and South East Asia to East Asia. We hope that your dialogue in the coming days will lead to the universally desired result of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka. On our part, it is our duty to provide you with the best environment and facilities to ensure that your deliberations proceed as smoothly as possible in the interest of peace in Asia and on earth as a whole.

On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I wish to thank wholeheartedly the Royal Thai Navy for agreeing immediately to our request to provide the venue and all the facilities needed for these Talks. It is a great personal honour for me to represent the Royal Thai Government at this historic event of the inauguration of the Sri Lanka Peace Talks. I wish all of you every success in your common endeavour to bring peace to your fellow citizens and to your beautiful country.

Thank you.

Source: Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP), Government of Sri Lanka, Colombo

 

 

 

 

 
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