Talks underway to revive Sri Lanka peace bid

Oct 2, 2006 (AFP) – A Norwegian envoy held talks Monday with top Sri Lankan government officials aimed at reviving the island’s stalled peace process and ending an upsurge in ethnic bloodshed. Government officials said Colombo hoped the envoy’s visit could lead to a breakthrough in finalising dates for talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer, who arrived here Sunday in a bid to end a seven-month negotiation deadlock, held separate discussions with the head of the government’s peace secretariat, Palitha Kohona, and politicians.

“The government is hoping the visit of Mr. Hanssen-Bauer will persuade the Tigers to come to the negotiating table,” government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Hanssen-Bauer was due to travel Tuesday to the rebel-held northern town of Kilinochchi for talks with the Tiger leadership on re-starting discussions between the two sides in Oslo later this month.

Diplomatic sources said Hanssen-Bauer’s visit was likely to be followed by another from Erik Solheim, Norway’s International Development Minister and Sri Lanka’s top peacebroker to firm up arrangements for talks.

Meanwhile, one policeman was shot d