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Norwegian Tackles Sri Lanka War

January 26, 2000

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ A Norwegian government delegation is in Sri Lanka trying to find a solution to the country’s protracted civil war, a leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority said Wednesday.

The delegation headed by Norwegian official Leiv Lunde arrived over the weekend. It has consulted Tamil political parties, and it met Deputy Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella on Wednesday.

``The discussion was mainly about achieving a consensus between the government and the main opposition United National Party,″ said R. Sampandan, a parliament member from the Tamil United Liberation Front party. Three other Tamil parties also have participated in the discussions, he said.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga revealed last month that Norway was trying to help end the conflict between government forces and separatist Tamil rebels here. The war has killed an estimated 61,000 people since 1983.

Kumaratunga has proposed constitutional reforms that would grant greater autonomy to the provinces, including Tamil-dominated areas, in a package she hopes would satisfy Tamil aspirations for self-rule. But she has failed to win the backing of the United National Party, which she needs to earn the required two-thirds majority.

The separatist rebels, called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, have rejected the autonomy plan. They demand an independent state in the north and east for the country’s minority Tamils, saying they are discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese.

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