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Interim council not against constitution, says PM
From Sinniah Gurunathan, Trincomalee correspondent
Hardly 72 hours after the LTTE agreed to come for peace talks with the Sri Lankan government for the fourth time, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared that the setting up of an interim administration for the northern and eastern provinces will not be against the constitution.

Addressing the UNP national executive meeting at McHeyzer Stadium in Trincomalee, the Premier said that if the LTTE accepted the establishment of an interim administration it would mean that it was also accepting the country's constitution. "Some basic issues could be taken up for discussion during the first phase of talks scheduled for three days and no problem is expected in those talks," the Prime Minister said.

"The question of setting up of the interim administration or problems affecting Muslims in the east could be raised in later talks. We should first understand the core issues of the other side. Solutions could not be found to all problems at once. We must find solution to problems one by one," the premier said.

Mr. Wickremesinghe said he did not wish to set a time frame for the duration of talks. He explained that the UNP in its manifestos at the 1999 Presidential elections and in the two subsequent Parliamentary elections had mentioned the proposal of the establishment of an interim administration to the north and east.

"Our main aim should be to find a decisive solution without dividing the country and also on upholding democratic principles. "The interim administration will be set up according to the Constitution," the Prime Minister said.

He said the issue of the interim administration would be among the matters to be taken up at the Thailand talks scheduled to be held between September 12 and 17.

The Premier said that in the first round of talks with the LTTE only 'basic issues' would be taken up. Referring to the issue of withdrawal of army camps from certain places in the north and east, the Prime Minister said that in Muslim populated areas the Muslim MPs would be consulted before such withdrawal.

"Today I have come to Trincomalee without a bullet proof jacket," he recalled adding that in December last year when he addressed a UNP election meeting in the Trincomalee at the very Stadium he was wearing one. "This shows the peaceful environment prevails in Trincomalee today," he said.

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