Tamil rebels warn of major war in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka said Tuesday that Norwegian envoys will meet with government and Tamil rebel leaders this week to try to revive the country's peace process, amid spiraling violence and recriminations between the sides.

Erik Solheim, who negotiated Sri Lanka's 2002 cease-fire and is now Norway's international development minister, will arrive Thursday to join his peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer who is to arrive a day earlier, spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told The Associated Press.

"They will talk to the parties to make them return to the table," Rambukwella said. "We are ready to resume the peace process," he said.

The rebels said prospects to resume peace talks were "bleak."

"The situation has not improved; violence against us is going on," said senior rebel leader Seevaratnam Puleedevan, when reached by the telephone in the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi.

"The prospects (of resuming peace talks) are bleak, but nevertheless let the Norwegian envoys discuss how the situation can be improved. We have to wait and see," Puleedevan said.

The government and the rebels held peace talks in Geneva in February for the first time in three years but a second round of negotiations scheduled for April was canceled after the two sides blamed each other for rising violence.

The effort by the Norwegian envoys to restart the talks comes days after the Tigers accused the government of killing a senior rebel leader in an effort to drag the insurgents into a major war, reports the AP.

I.L.