Norwegian officials conclude latest peace mission in Sri Lanka
Sat November 13, 2004 09:36 EST .
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Norwegian peace brokers left Sri Lanka - Saturday after their latest bid to revive the country's stalled peace talks, while the government studied an offer from the Tamil Tiger rebels on how to break the 19-month deadlock.
Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen and peace broker Erik Solheim left for home after discussions with the government and Tamil Tiger rebel leaders, officials involved in the peace process said.
The country's Foreign Minister Jan Petersen flew to Egypt Thursday to attend Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's memorial service after concluding talks with Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The rebels' undisclosed offer, outlining demands for resuming negotiations, was given to the negotiators when they met with Prabhakaran Thursday in the northern town of Kilinochchi.
Government officials say they want to clarify certain issues in the proposal before responding. However, both sides have renewed their commitment to a cease-fire signed in February 2002.
Peace talks that followed the truce were suspended in April 2003 when the rebels withdrew demanding more autonomy to the Tamil-majority north and east.
Now the Tigers demand that their proposal for self-rule in Tamil-majority areas be the basis for negotiations. The government wants talks tied to a previous rebel commitment for a solution within a federal framework.
More than 65,000 people have been killed since 1983, when Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam rebels began their violent campaign to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils in this island nation off India's southern coast.
Published: Sat Nov 13 10:31:05 EST 2004