Foreign pressure pushing Sri Lanka to talks as war fears recede

June 4, 2006 (AFP) – Stepped up international pressure encouraged Sri Lanka’s warring parties to resume talks this week amid hopes of a new power-sharing deal, officials and diplomats said. Sri Lanka’s government is set to open two days of talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Oslo, the capital of peace broker Norway, after their main foreign financial backers warned them to scale down violence.

Norway called the meet to discuss the safety of Scandinavians monitoring a troubled truce, but it also signals that the peace process is not “completely dead”, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

“It may be a second or third-level meeting, but the important signal is that the peace process is not completely dead,” Rambukwella said. “There is hope, the doors are not shut and the parties are talking to each other.”

The two sides are to focus Thursday on the safety of the 60-member Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission consisting of personnel from five Nordic nations.

They have sought security guarantees after several close calls.

Sri Lanka’s key foreign financial backers last week warned both the Tigers and the Colombo government to curb the violence which has