The Norwegian pace facilitators in Sri Lanka are doing ground work for the next round of talks between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the government in Geneva even as a Tiger front organization staged a protest in the eastern town of Batticaloa.
Tom Knappskog, a Norwegian official, said a meeting between Norwegian Minister for International Development Erik Solheim and the Tamil Tiger theoretician Anton Balasingham was to take place late Wednesday in London.
"The talks are aimed at laying the ground work for the next round of talks in Geneva," Knappskog said.
Meanwhile, the normal life in Batticaloa was affected Wednesday by a protest called by a front organization for the Tamil Tigers, police said.
A group calling itself the "Eastern People" had called for a shut-down protest to highlight alleged abduction of youth in the area.
Nihal Karunaratne, the deputy police chief of the town, said public transport was curtailed, and presence in school and government offices was very low.
However, there has no any incidents of violence, the police said.
The protest action was much more visible in the areas dominated by the Tamil community while Muslim dominated areas in the district had seen its normal activity by and large, the police said.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels who face continued accusations of child recruitment through forceful means allege that paramilitary groups operating in the area has been responsible for abduction of several youth in the district.
The Tamil Tiger renegade group, the Karuna faction, is based in Batticaloa and the Tigers have insisted that the government should disarm the group before the next round of face-to-face talks in Geneva, Switzerland from April 19-21 .
The government has denied any links to paramilitary groups and have assured the Tigers that no group would be allowed to carry arms other than the government troops in the North and East provinces.