Sri Lankan president, main rival agree on bipartisan peace approach

Sri Lanka’s president and her main political rival have agreed for the first time to forge a bipartisan approach to the island’s peace process aimed at ending decades of ethnic bloodshed, officials on both sides said Tuesday. Sri Lanka’s president and her main political rival have agreed for the first time to forge a bipartisan approach to the island’s peace process aimed at ending decades of ethnic bloodshed, officials on both sides said Tuesday. President Chandrika Kumaratunga accepted a proposal by opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to adopt a common approach to solve the Tamil separatist conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972, officials said.

During two-hours of closed door talks on Monday evening, the two leaders discussed the fate of a Norwegian-backed peace initiative after numerous failures to revive peace talks that have been stalled since April 2003.

A spokesman for Kumaratunga said they discussed Wickremesinghe’s proposals for a broader bipartisan deal, contained in his manifesto for the November 17 presidential election, and agreed on the need to work together.

There has been no unity between the two main Sinhalese parties on ending the long-festering ethnic strife in the i