France asks Sri Lanka parties to resume peace talks

July 14, 2006 (AFP) – France Friday asked Sri Lanka’s warring parties to resume peace negotiations amid an escalation of fighting and said a peace deal was still possible in the embattled South Asian nation. The outgoing French ambassador Jean Bernard de Vaivre said the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) must stop using violence and enter negotiations with the government to end decades of ethnic bloodshed.

“I believe a solution is still possible,” the ambassador said in a message marking the French national day. “It is high time that pretexts sought in order to put off dialogue or to reject it are renounced.”

His remarks came as 12 soldiers and four Tiger rebels were killed in an exchange of long-range mortar bomb attacks in the island’s restive eastern province.

“Violence and terrorism cannot solve anything. Those in favour of such an approach will never be supported and will never receive the backing either of France or the international community,” the ambassador said.

He said the LTTE was eventually added to the list of terrorist organisations because it consistently refused to change its behaviour despite repeated appeals over the years.

“Equally, however, the state should