Sri Lanka vows talks despite sinking of navy craft

Mar. 29 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government Wednesday pledged to continue talks with Tamil Tiger rebels despite the killing of eight sailors in a suicide blast and fears the island could slip back to full scale war. Colombo’s chief peace negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva said Sri Lanka’s government will go ahead with talks next month at a venue in Switzerland despite Saturday’s suspected Tiger sinking of a navy gunboat.

“The government (is) committed towards a negotiated settlement despite (the) recent provocative action,” de Silva said in talks with the Swiss ambassador here Bernadino Regazzoni.

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels blew up a trawler together with six of their own men as a navy gunboat approached them, sinking both craft and also killing eight sailors.

The Swiss envoy was meeting with de Silva to discuss logistics for the next round of talks, tentatively scheduled for April 19 to 21.

“The minister and the ambassador discussed ways and means of making necessary arrangements for the second round of talks scheduled to be held in the third week of April in Geneva,” de Silva’s office said in a statement.

Diplomatic sources said the talks may be delayed for logistical reasons.