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Sri Lankan Peace Talks Postponed

November 10, 2003

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Face-to-face peace talks between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels have been indefinitely postponed, officials said Monday.

The announcement, by Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, came hours before Norwegian peace envoys were expected to arrive in Colombo amid a power struggle between Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister.

``It’s realistic to recognize that the events of the last four days have cumulatively placed the peace process at some risk,″ Peiris told reporters. ``We have to sort out basic issues first before we plunge into talks with the LTT,″ or Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam.

Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s deputy foreign minister and special envoy Erik Solheim are expected to arrive late Monday to discuss the future of peace efforts amid fierce criticism by President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Until the political crisis erupted last week, they had been widely expected to arrange face-to-face talks between government officials and the Tigers.

Both sides had said they were ready to renew direct talks, which were broken off in April by the Tigers, and the Norwegians were supposed to set the dates.

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