July 3, 2006 (AFP) – The chief negotiator for Northern Ireland’s main Roman Catholic party, Sinn Fein, was quoted by Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka as saying a European Union ban on the guerillas was a “huge mistake.” Martin McGuinness travelled to the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi for talks with the political leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the LTTE said in a statement.
It said McGuinness, the first European politician to visit the region after the 25-member EU outlawed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation in May, discussed the “present state of” Sri Lanka’s faltering peace bid.
“Regarding the EU ban he stated, it was a huge mistake for the EU leaders to demonize the LTTE and the political leaders of the Tamil people,” the LTTE quoted him as saying.
The LTTE gave no further details of his remarks, but said he wanted both the Tigers and the Sri Lankan government to hold direct talks.
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McGuinness was sighted by reporters in the rebel capital, but did not talk publicly.
The rebels and the government inked a ceasefire in 2002, but it has been breached by almost daily tit-for-tat attacks in the past six months raising fears the island nation will return to war.
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