Sri Lanka asks Norway to arrange early talks

Jan. 24 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president on Tuesday asked peace broker Norway to arrange early talks with Tamil Tiger rebels and help stem the latest wave of violence that has killed at least 151 people, officials said. Jan. 24 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president on Tuesday asked peace broker Norway to arrange early talks with Tamil Tiger rebels and help stem the latest wave of violence that has killed at least 151 people, officials said. President Mahinda Rajapakse held closed-door talks with Norway’s top peace envoy, Erik Solheim, on salvaging the island’s Oslo-backed peace process, which has remained deadlocked since April 2003, officials said.

“The president’s main message was to convey to the Tigers that he is ready for early talks,” an official source close to the president said. “He wants the violence to stop and talks to begin at the earliest.”

The official source, who declined to be named, said Solheim would carry Rajapakse’s message to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran on Wednesday.

Diplomatic sources close to the peace process said they were trying to arrange an initial ice-breaking meeting between the government and the Tamil Tigers by mid-February at a E