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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 12:45 GMT
Sri Lanka seeks Indian support
Burning building
There are hopes that peace efforts will be revived
Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has visiting India as efforts get under way to start a peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels.


The prime minister has begun a three-day Indian visit with the aim of enlisting support for peace efforts

Sri Lankan state radio
Mr Wickramasinghe is stopping over in Madras before going on to Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other members of the government.

The Sri Lankan Government announced this week that it would enter into a month-long truce in the long-running civil war in response to a similar announcement from the rebels.

The government also announced that it was lifting an economic embargo imposed on rebel-held territory.

Mr Wickramasinghe, who won elections this month, has pledged to hold peace talks with the Tamil Tigers.

Indian involvement

State-run Sri Lankan radio said the three-day visit to India was aimed at enlisting Delhi's support for peace efforts.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe
Ranil Wickramasinghe: Took over this month
India, with a Tamil population of its own in the south of the country, has long taken a close interest in the Sri Lankan conflict.

However, some analysts say it may be too distracted by its current dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir to want to get involved in efforts to start talks in Sri Lanka.

Observers also point out that Delhi may find it difficult to reconcile support for talks with Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka with its calls for an all-out war against terrorism.

New promises

Efforts brokered by Norway to get the majority Sinhalese government and minority Tamil rebels to the negotiating table have so far failed to make headway.

But Mr Wickremasinghe's United National Party (UNP) went into its first parliamentary session on Wednesday with firm promises to renew peace efforts.

His new administration may be more inclined to take the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam) gesture seriously.

The Tigers are fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the country.

See also:

21 Dec 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka enters truce with rebels
19 Dec 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's new parliament sworn in
09 Dec 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's new PM sworn in
12 Dec 01 | South Asia
Tamil Tiger attacks in Sri Lanka
30 Aug 01 | South Asia
Tamil Tigers reject talks offer
07 Dec 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Sri Lanka's hopes for unity
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