Sri Lanka offers Tamil autonomy as US warns against war

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.

June 2, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka moved closer Friday to granting more autonomy to minority Tamils under a new initiative backed by the opposition, as the United States warned against a return to full-scale war on the island. “Even though we will be having second or third-level talks in Oslo next week, the signal it sends is that two sides are still committed to the peace process,” Rambukwella said. “The peace process itself is not over.” President Mahinda Rajapakse wrapped up a meeting with major opposition parties of the majority Sinhalese community with an agreement to draft a political package to put to Tamil Tiger rebels, his spokesman said.

“The president proposed, and there was tacit agreement, to appoint a small committee to come up with a political proposal,” the spokesman said.

No immediate deadline was set for the panel.

He said the president wanted the all-party conference to come up with a consensus plan that could be discussed with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Plan Implementation Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said Rajapakse had wanted the support of the opposition to push ahead with a political plan to end ethnic violence that has claimed over 60,000 lives in the past th