Little progress on Geneva talks to save ceasefire in Sri Lanka

GENEVA, Oct 29, 2006 (AFP) – Peace brokers struggled to save Sri Lanka’s collapsing ceasefire as critical talks between the warring parties entered the second and final day Sunday in Geneva with both sides sticking to their guns. Tiger rebels said the first day’s outcome was “zero” with no agreement on addressing the urgent needs of over half a million people directly affected by recent fighting that claimed over 3,000 lives and displaced more than 200,000.

“I would say there was no progress after day one,” Tamil Tiger chief negotiator S. P. Thamilselvan said. “We did not hear of any steps that would indicate progress. The progress was zero.”

He said the “core issue” for his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was the addressing of needs of Tamils affected by the recent fighting, the opening of a key highway and the lifting of an economic embargo on rebel territory.

Hopes of a breakthrough were raised Saturday when the Sri Lankan government climbed down from its rigid position and agreed to consider power-sharing similar to what exists in neighbouring India.

“A Sri Lankan model of devolution will be devised for an undivided country to address the root causes of this conflict,” the Sri Lankan government’s chief nego