GENEVA, Oct 26, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s warring parties arrived in Geneva Thursday for their first face-to-face meeting in eight months amid international pressure to halt ethnic bloodshed and save a crumbling ceasefire. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) returned to the Swiss city after suicide bombings, conventional war and tit-for-tat killings that claimed nearly 3,000 lives since their previous meeting in Switzerland in February
Tiger delegates led by the group’s political wing leader, S. P. Thamilselvam, led a 13-member entourage for the two-day negotiations starting Saturday in Geneva, which is regarded by both parties as a neutral venue.
“We don’t expect a breakthrough in Geneva, but if they agree to keep talking that would be a good outcome,” a diplomat making the arrangements said.
The talks will start with a blank piece of paper, the diplomats arranging the process said.
Peace broker Norway has left it to the two sides to meet on Saturday and decide what they should take up.
Diplomats said the two parties were pushed to the table because of foreign pressure.
US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher has asked the two sides to “lower the temperature and go for peace talks