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Poll victory to boost peace hopes: Negotiator

Govt's top peace negotiator Siripala de Silva said hopes for peace have been strengthened by ruling party's victory in local polls.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 16:03 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Hopes for peace in Sri Lanka have been strengthened by the ruling party's landslide victory in local polls, the government's top peace negotiator said on Tuesday.

NSiripala de Silva said he told Norway's new peace envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, that last week's victory had strengthened President Mahinda Rajapaksa. His political allies, who resist the initiative, were defeated.

"The victory in the recently concluded elections... has brought more strength and courage to the government to carry forward its policies and programmes for a more pragmatic way," de Silva said in a statement.

He said he reiterated the government's commitment to a negotiated settlement with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) when he met Hanssen-Bauer on Monday.

Political analysts and local media have speculated that the president could call snap parliamentary polls if his two key nationalist allies try to block efforts to end the festering ethnic conflict.

The two parties, which oppose Norway's peace role as well as any concessions to Tamil Tiger rebels, were routed in Thursday's elections.

De Silva said he told Hanssen-Bauer there was no change in the government's stance, to resolve the conflict through a negotiated settlement. More than 60,000 people have been killed since 1972.

Hanssen-Bauer arrived on Monday on his first visit to the island.

During the four-day visit he is scheduled to travel to the northern town of Kilinochchi to discuss the outline of talks later this month between the government and LTTE in Switzerland.

He will be joined on Thursday by Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim who is flying in for discussions with President Rajapakse on the truce talks, officials said.

The government and the LTTE held talks in Switzerland in February and agreed to meet again this month on salvaging their troubled ceasefire.

First Published: Apr 04, 2006 16:03 IST