19 January 2006 Edition

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McGuinness begins Sri Lankan meetings

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness began a series of meetings in Sri Lanka on Tuesday 17 January. McGuinness has travelled to the country at the request of the respected Sri Lankan peace group, the Institute for Political and Conflict Transformation (Inpact).

Speaking from the capital Colombo before meeting with both the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and Tamil rebel leaders over the next number of days, Martin McGuinness said: "Sri Lanka has been caught in the grip of a bitter conflict since 1983 and almost 70,000 people have been killed. In recent weeks a number of worrying incidents have put immense strain on the developing peace process.

"Last year I met the Sri Lankan President when he visited Ireland to study the Irish Peace Process. I was subsequently approached by a respected peace organisation to travel to Sri Lanka to share my experience and encourage the two sides not to allow this ceasefire to break down completely.

"My message to all parties will be simple, that accommodation can only come through dialogue. That has been the lesson of the Irish Peace Process. There can be no military solution to these types of political problems. I look forward over the next few days to try and assist in the development of this conflict resolution process in whatever way I can.


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