Sri Lanka begins tsunami rebuilding amid fresh peace moves

Sri Lanka launched an ambitious 3.5-billion dollar tsunami recovery plan Wednesday despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund of more economic troubles following the disaster. Sri Lanka launched an ambitious 3.5-billion dollar tsunami recovery plan Wednesday despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund of more economic troubles following the disaster. President Chandrika Kumaratunga urged unity in her ethnically-divided and politically-fractured nation as Norway launched the first post-tsunami attempt to salvage faltering peace efforts.

“Let the tsunami tragedy be the start of a new beginning to rebuild our nation,” she said, officially launching the reconstruction effort the government says will cost 3.5 billion dollars.

Kumaratunga made no direct reference to the drawn out conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels, but said nature had taught a lesson — to shed ethnic, religious and political differences and work for the good of the nation.

Government and opposition politicians showed rare unity at the official ceremony to build 6,000 houses at the southern town of Hambantota where 4,500 people were killed in the December 26 tsunami.

“We do not want an