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Tamil Tigers' top negotiator dies of cancer

The top negotiator for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, Anton Balasingham, dies of cancer in London.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 07:19 IST

The top negotiator for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, Anton Balasingham, has died of cancer in London, a pro-rebel Web site reported. He was 68.

Balasingham was associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from its inception more than 30 years ago and had been a political adviser to reclusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the TamilNet Web site said.

Balasingham has represented the rebel group in peace talks with successive Sri Lankan governments since 1985, after a violent separatist war flared up in 1983.

Until his death Thursday, he played a key role in the peace process initiated after Norway brokered a cease-fire between the government and the rebel group in 2002.

Balasingham attempted to transform the rebel group's militaristic image into a political one. He wrote speeches and statements for the shadowy guerrilla leader and led an international propaganda campaign for the rebels.

Balasingham took part in a round of peace talks in Switzerland in February but could not participate in an October round because of ill health.

In November, Balasingham was diagnosed with cancer. Balasingham, who was born in Sri Lanka, began his life as a journalist with a Tamil-language newspaper and later became an employee of the British High Commission in Colombo. He later became a British citizen and lived in London.

First Published: Dec 15, 2006 06:41 IST