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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Tigers win sea route
Sri Lankan army soldiers
The truce has been in place since February
The government in Sri Lanka has agreed to allow the Tamil Tiger rebels the use of a controversial sea route.

A government spokesman told reporters that the rebels could move along the east coast twice a week, subject to certain conditions.


Basically each boat, for the purpose of carrying LTTE cadres on leave will carry a peace monitor

Bernard Gunatilake, government spokesman
The decision, which fulfils a key demand by the Tamil rebels, is expected to bolster prospects for the Norwegian-brokered peace talks between Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam or LTTE.

Peace talks, mediated by Norwegian observers and originally expected in May, have been pushed back with both sides engaged in preparing an agenda for talks.

The two sides signed a ceasefire agreement in February.

'Good sign'

Reports say the conditions attached to the use of the sea route are yet to be fully spelt out.

But the government says the LTTE would be expected to inform the government about their movements in advance.

"Basically each boat, for the purpose of carrying LTTE cadres on leave, will carry a peace monitor and a Sri Lanka monitoring mission flag, " the head of the government's peace handling body, Bernard Gunatilake, told Reuters news agency.

The Norwegian peace monitors who have been involved in the negotiations with the government over the issue, described it as a "good sign for the peace process".

Both sides have accused each other of violating the ceasefire agreement in recent months, raising doubts about the future of the peace process.

Tamil tiger
The ceasefire has largely been without incident

At least one Tamil Tiger boat blew up near the country's north-eastern coast of Batticaloa in May after a flotilla of rebel boats came across a government patrol.

The cause of the blast has not been determined.

The ceasefire monitors last month stopped travelling on LTTE boats after two monitors were abducted when the rebels attempted to flee an inspection by the navy.

The monitors were later released.

Despite these sporadic developments analysts believe the ceasefire has been largely incident free.

More than 65,000 people have been killed during two decades of the violent campaign by the LTTE for a separate homeland.


Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

28 Jul 02 | South Asia
07 Aug 02 | Crossing Continents
02 Aug 02 | South Asia
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08 Jul 02 | South Asia
03 Aug 02 | South Asia
09 Aug 02 | South Asia
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