This was proved rather conclusively when Balasingham dropped a bombshell: the Tigers were moving away from their struggle to establish a separate Tamil Eelam. "We operate according to the concept of a homeland and self-determination. Homeland doesn't mean a separate state as such," he said. "Saying that the LTTE is fighting for an independent state has no relevance."
Signs of this significant shift were evident at the September 16 opening ceremony that preceded the 12 hours of negotiation spread over two days. In his prepared statement, Balasingham made no mention of Tamil Eelam, the separate state the Tigers have been fighting to establish since they appeared on Sri Lanka's political landscape in the early 1970s. Mention was made, however, about administering the area the LTTE envisaged as Tamil Eelam. "It's crucial that the LTTE should play a leading and pivotal role in administration as well as the economic development of the north-east," he said.