Norway in talks with Tigers on saving Sri Lanka peace

Oct 3, 2006 (AFP) – A top Norwegian envoy headed for talks with Tamil Tiger rebels Tuesday in a fresh bid to save Sri Lanka’s troubled peace process, but cautioned that a quick fix to the conflict could not be expected. Special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer is trying to get the Colombo government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to sit down for face-to-face negotiations and prevent the island from slipping back to full-scale war.

“I am hopeful that the parties will be able to meet the challenges,” Hanssen-Bauer told reporters before crossing the de facto frontline and heading for the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (206 miles) north of here.

“I am mindful it is not easy,” he said, hinting that the early October time frame for talks set by a quartet known as the “co-chairs” — the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway — may not be possible.

The co-chairs, who are Sri Lanka’s main donors, have warned of possible cuts in aid unless the warring parties end seven months of deadlock by beginning talks in early October and accepting a progress review by the end of the month.

“I hope the international community is prepared to stand by the parties in the long haul and not expect