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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 12:22 GMT
Sri Lanka PM's peace pledge
Tamil Tigers team on left, Government team on right
Tuesday's talks were described as a 'breakthrough '
Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickramasinghe has said his country is committed to making peace with Tamil Tiger rebels.

"In a world regrettably where conflict is abundant, our peace process... remains a rare beacon of hope. We will not allow it to fail," Mr Wickramasinghe said in a speech in Tokyo.


We will not allow it [the peace process] to fail

Sri Lanka Premier, Ranil Wickramasinghe

His comments came hours before representatives of the Sri Lanka Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels began wrapping up their third round of talks in Oslo.

Mr Wickramasinghe is on a five-day visit to Japan to seek its support for development in his country.

Final session

The negotiators went in for the third day of talks in Oslo with an aim to finalise a joint statement to be issued Thursday.

"Political issues will be taken up again together with matters relating to the ceasefire as well political pluralism in embattled areas," an official involved in the talks was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Tuesday's talks on core issues of regional autonomy were described by officials as a "breakthrough.

Rebel negotiator Anton Balasingham said they were considering ways of integrating the two police forces as part of the settlement.

The rebels said Tamil-run police and courts would not be a threat to efforts to end nearly two decades of war.

The Sri Lankan military has also been looking at ways of absorbing armed groups of the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) into the island's main security forces.

Canadian commitment

The meeting was part of the third round of Norwegian-brokered talks to try to end Asia's longest running conflict.

Delegates to the talks on Tuesday also listened to a presentation from constitutional experts from Canada about using a federal-style government to unify different groups across the country.

Sri Lankan soldiers on patrol
Security forces may be united
Negotiators from both sides have said a political solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic problem will continue to be discussed at the Oslo talks.

"We have now reached an important milestone in the peace process and it is our aim to carry it further," said government negotiator GL Peiris.

But according to our correspondent, the Tamil Tiger's chief negotiator has been more circumspect about how quickly a solution could be found.

Over 60,000 people have been killed in the civil war in Sri Lanka since 1983.


Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

03 Dec 02 | South Asia
28 Nov 02 | South Asia
26 Nov 02 | South Asia
03 Nov 02 | South Asia
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