Spin tops substance in Sri Lanka talks

October 4, 2006 (LBO) – Norway has failed to secure agreement on resuming Sri Lanka’s peace talks following the latest diplomatic move, but reports suggest a breakthrough using hi-tech. Even as Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer struggled to get agreement between the government and the Tamil Tigers over a date and a venue for resuming talks, local and foreign media were oozing with optimism.

“Tamil Tigers agree to unconditional talks with Sri Lankan government,” screamed the headline of a foreign news agency report. “Sri Lanka rebels agree to Oslo talks Oct 28-30 – source,” said a more optimistic report.

Both reports failed to mention that the Tigers had expressed willingness to talk at a venue different from what was suggested by the government and at a different time.

According to one, the Tigers agreed to “Oslo” talks while the local media splashed remarks from minister Keheliya Rambukwella that the government wanted talks on October 30th or November 10 in Geneva.

News organisations may not have been unaware of Colombo’s stand. This means the parties can resume talks through broad-band video conferencing between a Sri Lankan delegation in Geneva and a