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 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 14:35 GMT
Sri Lanka talks switch to Germany
Mr Balasingham with government negotiator GL Peiris in Thailand in January
The next talks will be reduced from four days to two
Sri Lanka's next round of peace talks will be moved from Thailand to Germany amid concern for the poor health of the Tamil Tigers' chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham.

The fifth round of "talks will be held at the Norwegian embassy in Berlin", said a Norwegian foreign ministry spokesman, Karsten Klepsvik.

Starting on 7 February, the duration of the talks will be shortened from four days to two.

The talks had originally been scheduled for 7-10 February in Nakhon Pathom, a riverside resort near the Thai capital, Bangkok.

Poor health

London-based Anton Balasingham, 64 was finding it strenuous to travel to Thailand.

Anton Balasingham
Balasingham - fears he could catch an infection
He has been suffering from diabetes and heart problems. He also underwent a kidney transplant in 2000.

Because of his poor health Mr Balasingham has not been able to travel to Sri Lanka to meet the Tiger's leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The weather has been particularly bad, with heavy flooding of northern areas of Sri Lanka controlled by the Tigers. Fears were expressed that Mr Balasingham might catch infection if he travelled to Sri Lanka.

Talks between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil Tigers began in September when the Tigers dropped their demand for a separate state in the north and east, and agreed to regional autonomy.

Later talks detailed security and development issues and hammered out a power-sharing model within a federal system.

The fourth round of talks, earlier this month, centred on an accord for the return on Tamil refugees to the region.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Frances Harrison
"In the long term this division may cause problems"
  Vidar Helgesen, Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister
"There is a long way to go"

Peace efforts

Background

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TALKING POINT
See also:

18 Jan 03 | South Asia
15 Jan 03 | South Asia
09 Jan 03 | South Asia
06 Jan 03 | South Asia
01 Jan 03 | South Asia
05 Dec 02 | South Asia
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