BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Muslims demand Sri Lanka talks role
Sri Lankan soldier
Recent fighting has overshadowed peace efforts
An influential Muslim party in Sri Lanka has asked that it be part of any peace process in the country involving the government and Tamil rebels.

Eric Solheim
Mr Solheim will travel to rebel areas
The Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) made the demand after talks with Norwegian envoy Erik Solheim in Colombo.

"Any settlement reached will not be seen as legitimate if the Muslims are not involved in the negotiations," according to SLMC leader and Trade Minister Rauf Hakeem.

Mr Solheim held talks with the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Tuesday in his latest attempt to start a dialogue between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Balance of power

Mr Hakeem said he fully supported the Norwegian peace initiative - but wanted to make sure his party was involved in any negotiations to end the long-running civil war.

Tamil Tiger leader
Reclusive Tamil leader Prabhakaran: Not known if he will hold talks
The SLMC, which has 10 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament, holds the balance of power and is vital to the survival of President Kumaratunga's government.

Mr Solheim's peace mission is expected to continue with a visit to the northern jungle stronghold of the Tamil Tigers.

But it is not clear if he will meet the reclusive rebel leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The Norwegian envoy last week met the Tamil Tigers' chief negotiator in Europe, Anton Balasingham, who was quoted in press reports as saying that he was given a proposal on a possible ceasefire.

The Sri Lankan Government says there can only be a joint truce after peace talks begin, while the rebels have said they will not start talking until a ban on them has been lifted.

More than 60,000 people have died in nearly two decades of fighting in the island's civil conflict.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

30 Apr 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka fighting 'sets back peace'
27 Apr 01 | South Asia
Casualties mount in Sri Lanka
23 Apr 01 | South Asia
Tamil Tigers to end truce
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories