Tiger chief peace negotiator dies of cancer

COLOMBO, Dec 15, 2006 (AFP) – The senior negotiator for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels, who vociferously pleaded their cause around the world but never took up arms, has died of cancer in London, a close associate told AFP. “It is an unfortunate personal tragedy,” he said, but conceded that “when compared to the vast ocean of the collective tragedy faced by my people, my illness is merely a pebble,” the pro-rebel tamilnet.com website quoted him as saying.

Updated

Anton Balasingham, 68, was a lynchpin of the efforts to establish lasting settlement, and lamented only recently that his battle with cancer prevented him making a bigger contribution as the process began to unravel.

Balasingham died Thursday at his home in London.

He had been diagnosed with terminal bile duct cancer last month and missed October talks between the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government because of failing health.

His close associate Nadesapillai Vithyatharan, chief editor of two Tamil language newspapers, said Balasingham had left hospital at the weekend. His funeral will be held in London.

“I was with him till Sunday and he went home knowing that he had only a few days to live,” Vithyat