Sri Lanka peace delegates battle to keep out reporters

COLOMBO, Oct 29, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan government delegates in Geneva to negotiate peace with Tamil Tiger rebels were “under a lot of stress” and wanted journalists removed from their hotel, diplomats said Sunday. Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Sarala Fernando, said she asked the Swiss authorities to evict all journalists who had booked into the same four-star hotel where the government delegation was put up.

“The delegation was under a lot of stress,” Fernando told reporters outside the Hotel Epsom where the delegates were staying.

“The press is always trying to put us in trouble. We asked for all the press to be removed.”

She said the Swiss themselves asked the hotel to find other accommodation for reporters who were checking in.

However, a Swiss foreign ministry official said they had no role in shutting out reporters and some journalists remained despite the Sri Lankan government’s call to move them.

In Sri Lanka, the state-run Daily News said the details of the accommodation of the government team had been “leaked by irresponsible persons in Colombo” and the media presence at the same hotel was an “unnecessary infringement of their privacy, security and confid