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Sri Lanka donors meet Tigers to save peace talks

The international donors met Tigers in a bid to keep peace talks due to be held in Switzerland from April 19 on track, officials said.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2006 15:01 IST

Envoys from Sri Lanka's international donors went on Monday to meet Tamil Tiger rebels in a bid to keep peace talks due to be held in Switzerland from April 19 on track, officials said.

The ambassadors of Norway, Japan and the European Union (EU) flew north to rebel political headquarters at Kilinochchi to see the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Norwegian embassy spokesman Tom Knappskog said the diplomats would "stress the importance of taking the process forward to further meetings, of building deeper confidence and ultimately of realising substantive progress on the peace process".

Diplomats said the ambassadors representing the co-chairs of the peace process would urge the LTTE to attend the three-day truce talks despite renewed tensions.

"The co-chairs are concerned about the government of Sri Lanka's and LTTE's preparations for the second round of ceasefire talks scheduled for later this month in Geneva and the important implications that the outcome of that meeting will have for the wider peace process", an EU statement said.

The ambassadors were expected to convey government guarantees of safe passage for the Tigers, diplomats said.

The diplomatic flurry comes amid raging disputes between the government and the rebels.

The LTTE has demanded the government abide by a pledge to disarm rival Tamil paramilitary groups, notably the Karuna faction, which targets the LTTE.

Meanwhile, tension remained high Monday in the eastern town of Batticaloa where both the LTTE and Karuna group were holding separate protests, officials said.

The LTTE called for a shut-down strike of businesses, offices and public transport to mark Friday's gunning down of a pro-LTTE activist in the eastern port town of Trincomalee.

The Karuna faction called for black flags to be raised in Batticaloa and Ampara, also in the east, to mark the second anniversary of a bloody battle with the LTTE.

First Published: Apr 10, 2006 15:01 IST