Norwegian peace envoys to meet Govt, Tigers | india | Hindustan Times
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Norwegian peace envoys to meet Govt, Tigers

The effort by the Norwegian envoys to restart the talks comes days after the Tigers accused the Govt of killing a senior rebel leader.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 11:39 IST

Sri Lanka said on Tuesday that Norwegian envoys would meet the government and the LTTE this week to try to revive the country's peace process, amid spiralling violence and recriminations between the sides.

Erik Solheim, who negotiated Sri Lanka's 2002 ceasefire and is now Norway's international development minister, will arrive on Thursday to join his peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer who is to arrive a day earlier, spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

"They will talk to the parties to make them return to the table," Rambukwella said. "We are ready to resume the peace process," he said.

No immediate comment was available from the Tamil Tiger rebels, who have said in the past that they will take part in talks only after violence against them and their supporters is halted.

The government and the rebels held peace talks in Geneva in February for the first time in three years but a second round of negotiations scheduled for April was cancelled after the two sides blamed each other for rising violence.

The effort by the Norwegian envoys to restart the talks comes days after the Tigers accused the government of killing a senior rebel leader in an effort to drag the insurgents into a major war.

Col Ramanan, the No. 2 Tamil Tiger leader and the rebels' intelligence chief for eastern Sri Lanka, was killed on Saturday.

A breakaway Tamil group claimed it killed Ramanan in an ambush as he drove by on his motorcycle, but the mainstream rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, blamed the attack on the government.

The military denied involvement. "LTTE considers this attack is intended to end all efforts towards peace and drag the LTTE into a major war," said a statement on the rebel Web site Monday.

The rebel movement split in 2004, when an eastern-based military commander named Karuna broke away with 6,000 fighters.

The Tigers accuse the government of supporting the group in its attacks on their fighters, and of letting it to operate in government-controlled territory -- a charge the army denies.

The government has blamed the Tigers for numerous attacks, especially on soldiers, in recent months.

Factional tension has been accompanied by a surge in violence that has killed nearly 300 people since the beginning of April, raising fears that the country is heading back to full-scale civil war.

The Tamil Tigers have fought the government since 1983, demanding a separate homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.