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Norwegian Envoy Begins New Peace Bid in Sri Lanka


Norway's top peace envoy has met with Sri Lanka's president in an effort to restart peace talks between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, and prevent the island-nation from sliding back into full-scale war.

Diplomats say Oslo's International Development Minister Erik Solheim arrived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, early Friday to meet with President Mahinda Rajapakse. Details of the talks were not released.

Solheim is expected to fly to neighboring regional power India later Friday to brief officials there on efforts to bring the rebels back to the negotiating table. The rebels quit the peace talks in April 2003.

A 2002 ceasefire agreement between the government and the insurgents has been deteriorating amid an upsurge in violence and clashes between the two sides. Last month there was assassination attempt on Sri Lanka's army chief.

Solheim held talks with Tiger rebels in January and secured an agreement from both sides to meet in Switzerland on February 22 to discuss the truce. But a second round of truce talks scheduled for April was canceled after the two sides blamed each other for rising violence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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