Norway welcomes Sri Lanka talks pledge

OSLO, Sept 27, 2006 (AFP) – Norway on Wednesday welcomed an announcement by the Sri Lankan government that the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels was committed to resuming talks on ending decades of ethnic bloodshed. “We see this as a very positive development and we are hopeful both parties will meet for talks as soon as possible,” Norway’s special envoy for the peace process, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, told AFP.

The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran, on Wednesday told Colombo he was committed to resuming talks on ending a separatist conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives, the Sri Lankan government said.

While no date or location for talks were confirmed, Norway hopes to arrange a meeting in Oslo in October and bring a halt to 10 months of violence that have lead to the deaths of 1,500 lives, despite the existence on paper of a truce signed in 2002.

Hanssen-Bauer said he would travel to Sri Lanka next week to consult the two parties. No dates have been finalised for the trip.