Norwegian diplomat meets Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka

Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka arrived Thursday in a northern stronghold of the Tamil Tiger rebels for talks with guerrilla leaders on bolstering a fragile cease-fire with the government.

Hans Brattskar, a key player in the island's Norway-led peace process, arrived in the northern town of Kilinochchi for a meeting with rebel officials lead by S. P. Thamilselvan, theTigers' political chief.

Sri Lanka's cease-fire, which Norway brokered in 2002, appeared on the verge of collapse last month until the government and the rebels agreed at a Feb. 22-23 meeting in Geneva to halt attacks.

However, violence last week killed three people, disrupting a brief period of calm following the Geneva meeting and prompting European truce monitors to express fears that the country was again on the verge of sliding back into civil war.

The rebels and government officials plan to meet again on April 19-20 in Geneva.

The Tamil Tigers have been campaigning since 1883 for a separate homeland for the island's ethnic minority Tamils, who accuse the majority Sinhalese of discrimination in jobs and education.

The two sides held six rounds of peace talks after signing the cease-fire in 2002, but those talks broke down a year later over demands by the rebels for sweeping autonomy in the island's north and east, reports the AP.


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