EU urges end to fighting in Sri Lanka

HELSINKI, Oct 14, 2006 (AFP) – The European Union on Saturday urged Sri Lanka’s leaders and the Tamil Tiger rebels to end fierce fighting which threatens peace talks due this month, after a week of raging violence there. “The presidency urges the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to ensure that humanitarian aid deliveries be granted free access to conflict-affected areas and that the security of humanitarian workers will be guaranteed.” Finland, speaking as holder of the rotating presidency of the European political bloc, said it “urges both sides to cease all hostilities immediately and create an environment for constructive discussion”.

The EU presidency “is concerned that the recent escalation of violence can endanger the positive step taken by the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to resume peace talks in Switzerland” due on October 28 and 29, the Finnish statement said.

Sri Lankan jets bombed territory controlled by the Tigers on Friday, on the third day of an offensive provoked by a flare-up of violence in which 130 government troops were killed and hundreds wounded in fighting with rebels.

The EU presidency stressed its support for mediation efforts by Norway, whi