Oslo, Dec. 2 (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s government and Tamil Tiger rebels started a round of peace talks in Oslo today with Norway predicting many more meetings would be needed to end Asia’s longest-running conflict.
The talks, the third round of Norwegian-brokered efforts to end almost two decades of war, went ahead despite the absence of a key Muslim negotiator who left Oslo to try to resolve a political crisis in his party in Colombo.
Government negotiator G.L. Peiris, Tamil Tiger negotiator Anton Balasingham and Norwegian deputy foreign minister Vidar Helgesen sat around an oval table on the 32nd floor of the Oslo Plaza skyscraper hotel in Oslo. They declined to give any comments to reporters who were allowed to witness the start of the talks on ending a war that has killed at least 64,000 people.
The Tigers have been fighting since 1984 for a separate state for minority Tamils, who say they are discriminated againt by the island's Sinhalese majority.