Norway confident stalled Sri Lanka talks will start again

OSLO, Sept 11, 2007 (AFP) – The main mediator in Sri Lanka’s peace process, Norwegian Erik Solheim, expressed confidence Tuesday that stalled talks between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels would one day start again.

“It’s very clear that again they will come back to the table” of negotiations, Solheim told reporters in Oslo.

“We are ready to act as soon as they are ready,” he said.

Solheim, who was appointed mediator to the Indian Ocean island in March 2000, did not give a timeframe for when he thought negotiations could pick up.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting for an independent homeland in a 35-year ethnic conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

A 2002 truce now exists only on paper as worsening fighting since late 2005 has killed more than 5,000 people, according to government figures.

“Of course it’s a pity that at the moment the situation is much bleaker than a few years back,” Solheim said. “But again patience, patience, patience: we are patient.”

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