Sri Lanka rejects Oslo venue for peace talks

Sri Lanka’s president Wednesday rejected a Tamil rebel demand to hold talks in Oslo and welcomed a statement from an international quartet this week that urged the guerrillas to halt killings. Sri Lanka’s president Wednesday rejected a Tamil rebel demand to hold talks in Oslo and welcomed a statement from an international quartet this week that urged the guerrillas to halt killings. President Mahinda Rajapakse said his new government was prepared to travel to any Asian destination for talks with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on upholding a fragile ceasefire.

Colombo last week backed down from its earlier demand that the negotiations should be within government-held territory and agreed to an Asian venue, a move which saw Japan offering to host talks.

“I think the Tigers are playing politics,” Rajapakse told reporters. “If they are serious they must come for talks in Japan. I am ready for talks as soon as the Tigers are ready.”

His remarks came two days after Sri Lanka’s key backers — the US, the European Union, Japan and peace mediator Norway — urged Tamil Tiger rebels to end the current cycle of violence that has claimed 37 lives this month in the northea