Sri Lanka peace hopes dim amid fresh row over venue: diplomats

Hopes for a revival of Sri Lanka’s peace process dimmed after Tamil Tiger rebels rejected a government offer to hold ice-breaking talks at an Asian venue hosted by Japan, diplomats said Sunday. Hopes for a revival of Sri Lanka’s peace process dimmed after Tamil Tiger rebels rejected a government offer to hold ice-breaking talks at an Asian venue hosted by Japan, diplomats said Sunday. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Saturday rejected a government offer to end an impasse over a venue for talks on a fragile ceasefire in place since 2002 by agreeing to an Asian location.

Colombo had earlier insisted that any talks with the Tigers must be held on the island, but last week told Japan’s peace envoy Yasushi Akashi that it was amenable to an Asian venue. The suggestion promoted Akashi to offer Japan as a venue.

But the LTTE rejected the offer saying it wanted to continue with a Norwegian-sponsored talks format that the new government of President Mahinda Rajapakse had pledged to review.

“There is no change in our position with regard to the venue for talks and we stand by the Norwegian facilitator’s original suggestion that the talks on effective implementation of the