Geneva Peace Talks End in Failure

Talks between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Tamil Tigers in Geneva ended without any progress and without any agreement of holding future talks. Many analysts suspected that both sides came to Geneva more due to international pressure than because of any true desire to negotiate.

The talks were marked by mutual recriminations and collapsed over the rebels’ main demand that the government reopen the A-9 highway, the main north-south artery to the northern Jaffna peninsula that was closed by the government army in August. The Tigers rejected the government’s position to ship supplies to Jaffna by sea instead.

Following the collapse of the peace talks, Sri Lanka's isolated Jaffna peninsula is bracing for more grim developments. The area changed hands several times during the two decades of conflict. Government troops have maintained control since 1995 and now station more than 40,000 troops there. But the area is cut off from the rest of the island by Tiger-held territory. The government is supplying the peninsula by sea and air. Jaffna’s Tamil population suffers from shortages of food, medicine, and fuel, as well as rising prices for basic staples. Civilians complain that too much of the supplies go to the troops instead.