Colombo, August 19:

Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers will hold talks with the Colombo government on salvaging their truce “in the next couple of weeks” in Norway, a pro-rebel website today quoted the Tigers’ top negotiator as saying.

Norway’s chief mediator Vidar Helgesen however denied that a time and place had been agreed for the talks. “We reached an agreement to hold talks on the ceasefire,” he told AFP. “The location and the date have not been decided.”

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 week’s assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. “The LTTE’s theoretician (Anton Balasingham) revealed that the talks, facilitated by the Norwegians, would be held in Oslo within the next couple of weeks,” the Tamilnet website said. “The discussions will also focus on the escalating violence in the northeast and other related issues.”

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. Norway’s Foreign Minister Jan Petersen and his deputy, Helgesen, met with Balasingham in London on Wednesday as the two men returned home after attending Kadirgamar’s funeral in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga told the Norwegians that she wanted an urgent review of the truce after the foreign minister’s assassination.