Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan panel meets to solve ethnic issue

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COLOMBO, May 30, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A panel appointed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to formulate a political package to end the island's separatist armed conflict has resumed its sessions after a long stoppage, a senior government minister said here Wednesday.

Keheliya Rmabukwella, the minister of Foreign Employment and the government's defense spokesman said that the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) met last week to discuss political proposals put forward by various parties.

"There was serious deliberation last week. They will try to come to a common agreement by taking into serious consideration views of all parties as soon as possible," Rambukwella said.

The APRC was appointed in January 2006 as a result of President Rajapakse's action to convene an all party conference (APC) to discuss a possible solution to the long drawn-out separatist armed conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The objective of the APC was to arrive at southern consensus to a possible solution to be offered to the minority Tamil community in Northern and Eastern provinces.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has waged war with the government since the mid-1980s to carve out a separate homeland for Tamils claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese majority community.

More than 69,000 people have died in the conflict.

The APC is far from achieving common ground as various political parties have offered different solutions to the conflict.