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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Sri Lanka foes 'agree to talks'
By Ethirajan Anbarasan
BBC Tamil Service

Jon Hannsen-Bauer and SP Thamilselvan after meeting on Saturday
The Norwegian envoy met senior Tamil leaders for several hours
Sri Lankan officials and the Tamil Tiger rebels have agreed, in principle, to hold talks in Norway next month, a Norwegian peace envoy has said.

But the political leader of the Tamil Tigers told the BBC Tamil Service that a final decision had not been taken.

Jon Hannsen-Bauer met senior Tamil Tiger leaders in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka.

The latest diplomatic efforts follow an escalation of violence in Sri Lanka's northern and eastern provinces.

"We have agreed that the LTTE will meet in Norway on the 8th and 9th of June to discuss the security of peace monitoring efforts," Jon Hannsen-Bauer, told journalists after meeting senior LTTE leaders in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan officials will also participate in the Norway meeting, he said.

Mr Bauer made the announcement after holding talks with the political wing leader of the LTTE , Mr S P Thamilselvan.

The Norwegian envoy also claimed that, in principle, they had resolved the issue of transporting LTTE leaders from the eastern province to the Tigers' northern headquarters to discuss the ground situation prior to talks.

Details unclear

However, Tamil Tiger rebels played down the Norwegian claims saying a final decision has not been taken about the talks.

"We are considering the Norwegian proposal at the moment and a decision will be taken soon," Thamilselvan told the BBC Tamil Service

Details of how the LTTE leaders will be transported to Norway or how they will reach Colombo have not been disclosed so far.

Mr Thamilselvan said the Tigers had expressed their strong condemnation for attacks on Tamil civilians in the north and the east and have warned that Tamil people will be forced to defend themselves, if the violence continues.

Commenting on reports that the European Union plans to impose a ban on the Tamil Tigers, Thamilselvan said the move would have a negative impact on the peace process.

He also accused the Sri Lankan government of spreading "false propaganda" against the Tamil rebels which has turned international opinion against the Tigers.

"It was the international community which forced the Sri Lankan government to establish the Tsunami Joint mechanism to help tsunami affected victims. But the situation has now changed," he said.

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