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British diplomats failed in securing safe surrender of LTTE leaders

London, May 23 (ANI): British diplomats’ plans to secure the safe surrender of two senior LTTE leaders of the political wing backfired as they were reportedly killed by the Sri Lankan Army when they came out with white flags to give themselves up, according to a top UN official.

The head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s political wing Balasingham Nadesan and Seevaratnam Pulidevan, who led the Tamil Tigers peace secretariat, were killed despite involvement of British diplomats and the UN Secretary General’s Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar, in the delicate negotiations with the Lankan authorities.

Britain insists its involvement was at most indirect. “We made no specific representations on behalf of members of the LTTE but we consistently urged the UN to play an active role in mediating an end to the conflict, including protecting civilian lives,” a senior British official said.

While British diplomats were part of a chain of intermediaries between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers, sources rubbished suggestions that they had tried directly to negotiate a deal, The Guardian reported.

Nambiar said he had “direct contact” with British diplomats at the UN in New York and with a British minister, but declined to give further details of the conversations. “There was a ministerial demarche [a formal diplomatic representation] to the secretary general from the UK office in New York,” he said.

The initial contact from the LTTE is understood to have been made through a British journalist.

The chief intermediary for the two men was the Norwegian Government’s Environment Minister Erik Solheim, apparently received calls from LTTE figures who said they wanted to surrender.

The ICRC also confirmed that it had received word from the Norwegians that the two leaders were looking to give themselves up.

The Sri Lankan Government’s point man in the negotiations appears to have been Kohona. He said that in the days leading up to Sunday evening, he had received a number of messages indicating that Nadesan and Pulidevan wanted a way out.

Kohona said that his response had been that “there was only one way to surrender that is recognised by military practice.” He said they should obtain a white flag and give themselves up. “I kept saying this for three days,” he added.

LTTE’s International Relations Head S. Pathmanathan accused Colombo of treachery in the killing of the political wing leaders, and said it is a crime against humanity that needs to be investigated.

“We were instructed to make contact with the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan forces in the war zone, un-armed and carrying white flags. B. Nadesan and Puleedevan were un-armed and carrying white flags and were called on by the Officers of the 58th Division to come forward for discussions. When they complied they were both shot and killed,” he added. (ANI)

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