Colombo, August 19:
Sri Lankaâ€™s Tamil Tigers will hold talks with the Colombo government on salvaging their truce â€œin the next couple of weeksâ€ in Norway, a pro-rebel website today quoted the Tigersâ€™ top negotiator as saying.
Norwayâ€™s chief mediator Vidar Helgesen however denied that a time and place had been agreed for the talks. â€œWe reached an agreement to hold talks on the ceasefire,â€ he told AFP. â€œThe location and the date have not been decided.â€
Tamilnet reported that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had written to Oslo agreeing to hold talks amid fears for the ceasefire after last weekâ€™s assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. â€œThe LTTEâ€™s theoretician (Anton Balasingham) revealed that the talks, facilitated by the Norwegians, would be held in Oslo within the next couple of weeks,â€ the Tamilnet website said. â€œThe discussions will also focus on the escalating violence in the northeast and other related issues.â€
Recent violence has marred the Norway-brokered February 2002 truce between the Lankan government and the Tamil rebels. The government has said the Tigers carried out the assassination, but the guerrillas have denied any involvement. Norwayâ€™s Foreign Minister Jan Petersen and his deputy, Helgesen, met with Balasingham in London on Wednesday as the two men returned home after attending Kadirgamarâ€™s funeral in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankaâ€™s President Chandrika Kumaratunga told the Norwegians that she wanted an urgent review of the truce after the foreign ministerâ€™s assassination.