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|Monday, May 14, 2001, updated at 13:19(GMT+8)|
Sri Lankan Peace Talks to Start by End of This Month: PaperThe Sri Lankan government will start long-awaited peace talks with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels by the end of this month, The Island newspaper said on Monday.
The paper said that government sources indicated that the five- member government delegation is likely to comprise Presidential Secretary Kusumsiri Balapatabendi, Lionel Fernando, a diplomat who was earlier Government Agent in the North-East and two cabinet ministers G.L. Piries and Sarath Amunugama. The fifth member is likely to be a professional who has still to be selected. The venue of the talks will be Oslo or Amsterdam.
Norwegian peace envoy Eric Solhiem is expected to arrive in Colombo this week to finalize arrangements for the possible peace talks between the two sides. He will meet President Kumaratunga and the government delegation during his visit.
He will seek assurances from the government for a ceasefire during the period of the peace talks. Earlier the government rejected a ceasefire as a precondition for the talks but the Tamil rebels have insisted on it.
The Norwegian peace mediation came on offer at the end of 1999. Since then Solhiem has been shuttling between government authorities and the Tamil rebels, attempting to organize the talks which appear to have materialized.
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