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Bush Offers Support to Sri Lanka in Pursuit of Peace


President Bush has offered U.S. support to Sri Lanka in its efforts to end the island's long civil war.

Mr. Bush made the offer during his White House talks Wednesday with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the talks focused on ways to build on a ceasefire between Sri Lanka's majority-Sinhalese government and ethnic Tamil Tiger separatists.

He says Mr. Bush also suggested sending several teams of U.S. experts to the country to assess how Washington can best help in Sri Lanka's pursuit of peace and economic development.

Mr. Wickremesinghe says Mr. Bush expressed solid support for the peace process in Sri Lanka. He added that continuing support from the United States, Europe and India is essential for peace talks to move forward. But he says only Sri Lankans can make peace that lasts.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland for the past twenty years. They agreed to peace talks earlier this year and are negotiating for an interim administration in northeastern areas of Sri Lanka still under their control.

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