Church Is Optimistic About Peace Process In Sri Lanka

Bishop of Trincomalee-Batticaloa Says

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TRINCOMALEE-BATTICALOA, NOVEMBER 17, 2002 ( «The Church is working on promoting the peace process underway in Sri Lanka,» Bishop Joseph Kingsley Swampillai of the diocese of east Sri Lanki told the Misna agency.

«The dialogue appears to be proceeding well and we are optimistic,» Bishop Swampillai of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, added. In the past, the bishop’s diocese has been affected, as has all of the north, by the decade-long conflict between the government and LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

«We cannot deny that there are still problems and obstacles in the peace process. The obstacles are being caused by the political opposition of the People’s Alliance of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the Marxist JVP movement, and some Muslim politicians,» the bishop explained.

«The conflict continues between the president, who for years attempted in vein to counteract the rebellion, and the Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is instead successfully conducting the peace process. We thank the Lord and pray for reconciliation,» Bishop Swampillai added.

Wickremesinghe, elected Premier on December 5, 2001, multiplied efforts on the path toward reconciliation with the LTTE, arriving last February to the signing of the cease-fire.

The September 16-18 peace talks held in Thailand, followed by the summit from October 31 to November 3, always in Thai territory, marked decisive steps in dialogue between the sides, favored also by the Norwegian mediation.

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