Sri Lanka's government and Tiger rebels Friday entered a landmark tsunami aid-sharing deal, raising hopes of salvaging a Norwegian-led peace process while hardline Marxists stepped up nationwide protests.
The government said the deal raised the prospect of reviving direct peace talks which remain on hold since April 2003, but the main Marxist party, the JVP, described it as a stepping stone for the break-up of the island.
Under the deal, the Colombo government and the Tigers will jointly handle billions of dollars in foreign aid for survivors of the December 26 tsunami, which killed at least 31,000 people and displaced one million in the country.
"The secretary to the ministry of rehabilitation, M.
S. Jayasinghe, signed on behalf of the government...
," government minister Maithripala Sirisena said here.
The document, after being signed by Jayasinghe, was taken by Norwegian diplomats to the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi where it was inked by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) de