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Norwegian team meets Tamilchelvan, discusses post-tsunami reconstruction

By V.S. Sambandan

COLOMBO, MARCH 6. A Norwegian team of facilitators, led by Oslo's Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar, on Saturday discussed the possible formation of a joint mechanism for post-tsunami reconstruction between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), with the rebels' political wing leader, S. P. Tamilchelvan.

The details of the proposed mechanism were not made public, but the efforts broadly aim at putting in place a system for resource allocation and project implementation.

The efforts for a joint mechanism or a working arrangement between Colombo and the Tigers are in the wake of the massive destruction caused by the December 26 tsunami, which devastated Sri Lanka's coastal districts along its eastern, southern and southwestern coasts.

At the yesterday's meeting in rebel-held Kilinochchi, the discussions were also held on "the formation of a common structure to address the humanitarian needs of the tsunami-affected areas," the LTTE said in a statement today.

The mechanism envisages a three-tier system to address issues relating to post-tsunami reconstruction. The need for a common working arrangement gains significance against the backdrop of the internationalisation of the post-tsunami assistance that has been pledged for Sri Lanka.

The World Bank estimated the tsunami damage at $ one billion and the reconstruction costs around $ 1.6 billion. For the current year, around $ 500 million would be required for reconstruction, according to estimates. The issue of a joint mechanism gains relevance as the areas devastated by the tsunami include those held by the LTTE.

JVP's opposition

Sri Lanka's ruling ally, the Left-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), has opposed any move to give direct aid to the Tigers.

In a recent interview to a western news agency, the JVP leader, Somawansa Amarasinghe, said his party would "break" from the Government if it "pushes for a joint mechanism with the LTTE for distributing tsunami aid or interim self-rule''.

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