Britain to push Sri Lanka peace bid amid child soldier charge

Nov 14, 2006 (AFP) – A British envoy arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday in a bid to salvage a tottering peace process as the former British colony faced UN charges of recruiting child soldiers. British MP Paul Murphy held talks with Sri Lankan officials handling the Norwegian-backed peace process, officials said, adding he planned to meet with Tamil Tiger rebels before departing Thursday.

“He is also meeting the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM),” a British High Commission (embassy) official said.

Government officials said President Mahinda Rajapakse was hosting Murphy at a dinner and would discuss the collapsing peace process.

Murphy will also separately meet with the government’s four-member peace negotiating team.

Murphy arrived in the island a day after the United Nations accused government forces of forcibly recruiting child soldiers on behalf of “the Karuna group”, an allied paramilitary force fighting Tamil Tiger rebels.

The special advisor to the UN Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock, told reporters that government soldiers had rounded up Tamil children to be recruited by the Karuna group.

The charge came on top of international condemnat