EU urges resumption of Sri Lanka peace talks

HELSINKI, Aug 18, 2006 (AFP) – The Finnish presidency of the European Union has called on the warring parties in Sri Lanka to return to the negotiating table after renewed fighting in the South Asian island nation.

“The presidency urges the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to cease hostilities at once and to resume peace talks,” it said Thursday in a statement.

“The senseless violence will not resolve the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lankan troops on Thursday beat back a fresh attempt by Tamil Tiger rebels to overrun the main defences of the northern peninsula of Jaffna. At least 98 guerrillas were killed and more than 100 others wounded.

The attack came before US envoy Steven Mann met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to demand that both sides in the decades-old separatist conflict put an end to the violence and return to the negotiating table.

“We believe a continuation of the fighting will only make the prospects for peace worse and will benefit neither side. The US therefore calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities,” Mann said after their talks.

International monitors said a February 2002 ceasefire now exists only on pape