The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Oslo raises hopes on Lanka talks

New Delhi, Nov. 9: Norwegian foreign minister Jan Peterson has brought good news on the Sri Lankan peace talks, initiated and facilitated by Oslo.

After India made it clear that it was not interested in hosting the LTTE, the talks held in Thailand have, so far, progressed to the satisfaction of all sides.

Peterson said both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have shown sincerity and willingness to end the bloody ethnic violence that has rocked the island state.

Speaking to reporters after meeting deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra today, Peterson said: “We know there are a lot of complicated issues that have to be addressed but it is very encouraging that the ceasefire, entered into late February, has held very well.”

The foreign minister, however, pointed out that there were many hurdles on the way. One was created by the decision of a Lankan court to sentence LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran to a 200-year prison term for the 1996 attack on the Central Bank in Colombo in which many civilians died, Peterson said. The sentence has cast a shadow on the next round of talks scheduled to be held in December at Oslo.

The LTTE protested against the sentence, delivered while peace talks were on. The Tigers regard the attack on the Central Bank as “an act of war” and not a terrorist strike.

The LTTE maintains that if the court could slap such sentences on its leader, it could serve similar sentences on Colombo’s soldiers, who have killed and bombed schools and houses in the northern and eastern provinces — home to Tamil minorities.

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