Japanese peace envoy in talks with Sri Lanka president

June 6, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse held talks in Colombo Wednesday with a top Japanese envoy on the future of the island’s peace process following bloody recent clashes, officials said. Rajapakse held closed-door talks with Japan’s Yasushi Akashi at the president’s tightly-guarded Temple Trees residence and the peace envoy later had discussions with the main opposition, officials said.

“The meeting with the president was a brief one,” an official at the president’s office said. He declined to give details of the discussion.

The Japanese diplomat arrived Tuesday, shortly after heavy weekend fighting between government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels in the island’s north left scores dead on both sides.

Akashi, who is on a four-day visit, is due to travel to the tropical island’s embattled east on Thursday, but his official program does not include a visit to the rebel-held north of the island, Sri Lankan officials said.

The 76-year-old envoy would “discuss with the government and the parties concerned the current situation of the peace process and its future,” the Japanese embassy said.

Japan is the single largest donor to Sri Lanka — providing nearly two thir