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Lanka talks move up a gear

Nakhorn Pathom (Thailand), Nov. 2 (Reuters): Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebel negotiators notched peace talks up a gear today by agreeing to start looking for a political solution to one of Asia’s longest-running conflicts.

In a second round of peace talks held in Thailand, originally expected to deal with humanitarian issues such as demining and refugees in the war-torn north and east, the two sides agreed to set up a “political committee” to discuss Tamil claims for self-determination.

Sri Lankan government chief negotiator G.L. Peiris said the committee would be led by himself and chief Tamil Tiger negotiator Anton Balasingham and would include one other person from either side.

“While we’re addressing the development issues and humanitarian issues, we have by no means forgotten or overlooked the political issues,” Peiris said. Asked what the committee would deal with, he said: “How we are going to devolve power, what are the arrangements to resolve the ethnic question.”

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