Sri Lanka warring parties open talks, seek to buy time

CEAT Kelani Holdings Managing Director Ravi Dadlani (right) and Lanka Ashok Leyland CEO Umesh Gautham exchange the OEM agreement

GENEVA, Oct 28, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s warring parties shook hands as they resumed face-to-face negotiations in Geneva on Saturday, after an eight month break and 3,000 deaths in fighting on the Indian Ocean island. Diplomats expect the meeting will simply buy time for more talks in December.

Journalists witnessed representatives of the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) gather in the Swiss city’s international conference centre.

They shook hands after an opening statement by Norway’s International Development Minister, Erik Solheim, who was leading Norwegian peace brokers.

In February, the parties met at Celigny, a town near here, and pledged to halt violence.

Instead, fighting escalated in Sri Lanka, forcing more than 200,000 people to flee their homes, according to aid agencies.

Choosing the neutral venue, the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels returned here amid international pressure led by the United States to lower the temperature at home.

“There may not be a dramatic outcome of the talks, but what is expected is to be able to agree on dates for future talks,” a diplomat close to the process told AFP. “We are looking at dates in December and

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