Peace hopes rise as Sri Lanka says Tigers agree to talk

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Sept 27, 2006 (AFP) – Hopes for peace in Sri Lanka rose Wednesday after the government revealed Tamil Tigers have agreed to resume face-to-face negotiations and end a seven-month deadlock in talks. Over the past three decades more than 60,000 people have been killed in Sri Lanka’s drawn out ethnic conflict. Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has told Colombo he is committed to resuming talks on ending a decades-old separatist conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

“We need concrete positive commitments from the leader of the LTTE to resume talks,” Rambukwella, also Policy Planning Minister, said. “He has given that.”

Political sources close to the government said it was also ready to enter talks, but would not stop retaliatory strikes against Tamil rebels, fighting for a separate homeland in the Sinhalese-majority country.

Norway’s special envoy for the peace process, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, welcomed the developments and said he would travel to Sri Lanka next week to consult with the two sides.

“We see this as a very positive development and we are hopeful both parties will meet for talks as soon as possible,” Hanssen-Bauer told