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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Sri Lanka holds peace meeting
Sri Lankan artillery
A truce has been in place since January
The Sri Lankan Government has held face-to-face talks with Tamil Tiger rebels in London.

Tamil Tiger
Both sides have accused each other of truce violations
A government statement issued in Colombo said the Economic Reforms Minister, Milinda Moragoda, met with the Tiger's chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, on Saturday.

The talks came ahead of the formal peace negotiations due to be held in Thailand soon.

It was the first ever ministerial-level dialogue since the two sides signed a permanent truce in January, aimed at ending two decades of civil war.

Direct talks

"The discussion covered a variety of issues regarding the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and preparations for direct negotiations in Thailand", the Sri Lankan Government statement said.

Norwegian mediators, who have been closely involved in peace efforts from their inception, told the BBC that the talks were "positive and constructive."

They said that the two sides discussed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the agenda for talks.

They said it was almost certain there would be another high-level meeting before full-blown peace talks got under way in Thailand.

The peace process has been moving slowly and full-blown talks between the government and the LTTE were originally expected to be held in June or July.

They are now thought to have been put back to few months to October.

The government and the Tigers have accused each other of violating the truce and the delay in the talks has deepened anxieties that the peace process itself my be in trouble.

But Saturday's negotiations in London have generated fresh optimism over Sri Lanka peace.

Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting for nearly two decades for a separate state in Tamil majority areas in the north and east of the island.


Peace efforts

Background

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See also:

16 Jul 02 | South Asia
14 Jul 02 | South Asia
08 Jul 02 | South Asia
29 May 02 | South Asia
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