Sri Lanka president in talks with Norway peace brokers

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September 23, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse held talks with Norwegian peace facilitators, the first since Colombo pulled out of a tattered truce in January, his office said Tuesday.

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Rajapakse and Norway’s senior peace envoy Erik Solheim discussed the military drive to dismantle the Tamil Tigers’ last bastion in the north.

The talks, which took place Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, centred on the need for sustainable peace, said a statement from the president’s office.

Having wrestled the east from the Tigers in July 2007, Sri Lanka pulled out of the six-year Norwegian-brokered truce in January and has since poured in a record 1.5 billion dollars into this year’s war efforts.

Security forces say they are now on the outskirts of Kilinochchi town, the political capital of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

During the talks, Rajapakse accused the rebels of using civilians as human shields in the face of advancing troops, his office said.

The LTTE, which has been fighting since 1