“I welcome you all with all respect, and thank you for being present at this meeting at such short notice.
“We have today reached an important juncture in the difficult path of eradicating terrorism from our motherland and ensuring the dawn of peace. We seek this peace for all the people of our country. Similarly, what we look forward to is a peace that will ensure to all citizens, whether in the North, South, East or West equal rights and privileges, to be enjoyed in freedom and dignity.
“The political parties gathered here are those that have the highest regard to the democratic system, ands have great confidence in it; it is satisfying that they all value democratic thinking and follow the principles of democracy. We are also encouraged by the fact that all of these parties comprise those who take great pains to achieve the economic, social, cultural and political aspirations of our people.
“I wish to emphasize the importance of all of us have come together so as not to betray the people in their eager search for democracy and peace, away from the path of violence.
“However difficult it may be, it is my belief that the efforts to find political solutions to political issues should be continued. It is my belief that there are no military solutions to political questions. The people have elected us to realize their aims and aspirations. It is our duty to ensure to the Tamil people of the North the same democratic rights as enjoyed by the people min all other parts of the country. Military operations have become necessary to eradicate terrorism from the country and enthrone democracy throughout the land.
“You will recall that in January this year the All Party Representative Committee presented a set of proposals. It is the expectation of the government to carry these proposals forward and implement them. Especially, in the context of our Constitution not being properly implemented, such the full implementing of these proposals cannot be done immediately. They should be done step by step. Already this is being implemented well in the Eastern Province. At the same time, the military operations are continuing in the North, to free the people there from the yoke of terrorism and ensure them of their democratic rights and freedoms.
“There should be a proper environment to fully implement the proposals of the All Party Conference and the All Party Representative Committee. The current military operations are being carried out to build that required environment. They are not intended to harass the ordinary people, or cause harm or hardship to them. Our policy in this regard is very clear. It is that we continue with these operations to free another group of our own brothers and sisters from the cruel grip of terror.
“I wish to state our satisfaction that the entire machinery of government led by the respective Government Agents, is carrying out fully coordinated work together with the International Red Cross and the United Nations to ensure the welfare of the civilians who are faced with some hardship and have been temporarily displaced due to the current military operations in the North.
“I wish to state that all hardships faced temporarily by our brothers and sisters in the North will be brought to an end in a short time. Similar to what we did in the East, we will soon make arrangements to bring normalcy to the lives of our fraternal citizens in the North, and provide them the opportunity to elect their own political representatives to the constitutionally established political institutions.
“You are aware that we are taking action to properly implement our Constitution. Similarly, the local government bodies and provincial councils are being strengthened. What the All Party Conference should do now is to discuss and agree on measures towards stabilizing this political process, and discuss the further measures necessary to achieve peace. This should be done in a manner that is fair by all communities. Such measures should help in raising the living standards of all communities. Also, we should build an environment in which every citizen will be able to live in peace and satisfaction.
“Finally, I wish to once again very clearly call on the LTTE to lay down their arms and surrender. They should act in this manner and enter the democratic political process. Our aim should be to ensure the democratic political rights of our Tamil brethren.”
The representatives of the parties present supported the President initiative to end terrorism and restore peace in the country, and also the measures being taken to ease the temporary hardships faced by the people of the North due to the ongoing military operations.
Representatives of the following parties were present: Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, Jathika Hela Urumaya, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, and Ceylon Workers Congress. Up Country People’s Front, National Unity Alliance, United National Party Democratic Group, Eelam People’s Democratic Party, All Ceylon Muslim Congress, National Congress, Western People’s Front, Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, National Freedom Front.