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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Sri Lanka says no to Oslo talks
Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Hagrup Haukland meets Tamil Tiger political chief SP Thamilselvan on Thursday
Norwegian mediators have played a central role in the peace process
The Sri Lankan government has turned down a Tamil Tiger request to hold talks in Norway.

The talks to discuss the implementation of the country's three and a half year ceasefire should be held in Sri Lanka, a government spokesman said.

The Tigers agreed to talks last week following the assassination of the country's foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

The government blames the Tigers for the killing, a charge they deny.

"Since the talks are going to be held on ceasefire violations and strengthening the truce, the talks must be held in Sri Lanka," government spokesman Nimal Siripala de Silva said.

"The government stand is that it is more practical to hold it here," he said.

The government are concerned that holding talks abroad would give the Tigers an opportunity to raise their profile.

No response

The Tamil Tigers are yet to respond to the government's suggestion of holding the talks in Sri Lanka, Mr de Silva said.

The issue will be to find a venue in Sri Lanka which both sides can agree on, the BBC's Dumeetha Luthra in Colombo says.

Diplomats say the only feasible place is a no man's land separating government and Tiger-controlled areas in the island's north.

Both sides stress that these talks will focus on the ceasefire and do not signify the resumption of peace talks.

Members of the Sinhalese nationalist JVP holding a protest in Colombo on Wednesday
The nationalist JVP held a protest in Colombo on Wednesday
The government says the rebels have made several violations of the ceasefire agreement in recent years, and have called for a review of the agreement.

The Tigers have also accused the government of failing to keep to the terms of the ceasefire.

They allege the Sri Lankan military has been providing support to several Tamil paramilitary groups who have carried out attacks against the Tigers.

Five rounds of peace talks were held between the government and Tamil Tigers after the ceasefire agreement was formalised in February 2002.

The Tigers withdrew in April 2003, saying the government had failed to honour pledges on autonomy.

More recently disputes over the administration of the tsunami relief effort and the sharing of international aid have caused tension.

More than 60,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Sri Lanka since 1983.




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