Sri Lanka warring parties head for Swiss peace talks

Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government and rebel negotiators headed to Switzerland Tuesday for talks aimed at saving a troubled ceasefire after 10 months of fighting killed more than 3,000 people, officials said. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government are under heavy diplomatic pressure to lift an eight-month impasse in the peace process as the international community grows increasingly concerned over Sri Lanka’s slide towards all-out war.

Even without an agenda for the October 28-29 meetings, Sri Lanka’s donors want the two sides to at least sit down together in a bid to put a halt to the wave of bloodletting.

The LTTE delegation, led by political wing chief S. P. Thamilselvan, travelled by military helicopter from the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi to Colombo international airport and was due to fly out shortly, the Tigers said.

Ambassador Hans Brattskar of Norway, the island’s peace broker, accompanied the rebel delegation.

Government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said security was assured for the Tiger delegation to transit through the island’s only international airport.

“We have guaranteed security for them,” Rambukwella said.

Several Sri Lankan dele