Sri Lanka hopeful Norway meeting will help peace process

TOKYO, June 28, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said Thursday he was optimistic that a meeting of top donors this week would help to revive the island nation’s moribund peace process. Peace broker Norway is holding the crucial meeting of Sri Lanka’s top aid donors in a bid to halt a new wave of bloodshed.

“We are expecting a very favourable development. The outcome is expected to encourage the current peace process toward contributing to the sustainability of our country,” said Bogollagma.

Oslo-brokered peace talks collapsed in October last year and since then diplomatic efforts have failed to end violence in the bitter ethnic conflict which has claimed more than 60,000 lives in the past 35 years.

More than 5,000 people have died in the latest wave of fighting since December 2005 despite a truce in place since February 2002.

Bogollagama, in Japan for the first time since he took office in January, met Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso, who pledged about one million dollars’ worth of aid for landmine removal and support for refugees.

Japan accounts for about two-thirds of total bilateral aid to the island and international human rights groups hav