- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

SRI LANKA

Truce broker says time is running out

COLOMBO — Time is running out for Sri Lanka’s fragile peace process, and the government and Tamil Tigers must stick to promises made at February talks to halt violence, Norway’s top envoy said this week.

Norwegian development minister Erik Solheim, broker of a 2002 truce that halted two decades of war but barely survived violence in January, said the island’s peace process has reached a critical stage but expected April talks to go ahead despite warnings from the rebels.

“The time is ripe now,” he told a press conference here in Sri Lanka’s capital, less than two weeks before talks due to be held near Geneva. “No one should think the time will be ripe half a year or a year down the road,” Mr. Solheim said. “The main problem … is the lack of implementation of what was promised in the first session of talks,” he said.

BANGLADESH

Man killed as farmers clash over diesel

DHAKA — One man was killed and nearly 100 were injured in Bangladesh on Thursday in clashes between pro-government activists and farmers demanding supplies of power and diesel to run their irrigation pumps, witnesses said.

They said the fighting at Kansat, 220 miles northwest of Dhaka, erupted after pro-government activists attacked farmers, calling them supporters of opposition parties. Police said many people were injured in hours of fighting during which both sides used homemade bombs, sticks and stones.

At least nine other persons have died in the area over the past two months, the peak season for sowing summer rice, in violence triggered by short supplies of electricity and diesel.

Villagers have stormed power department offices and attacked district officials to vent their anger, prompting police to use tear gas and rubber bullets to restore order.

Weekly notes …

India’s most famous environmentalist was in stable condition Thursday after police forcibly took her to a hospital after she fasted eight days to demand rehabilitation for thousands of villagers who will be displaced by a dam. Medha Patkar, 52, who drew national concern by keeping up her hunger strike despite failing health, was taken away around midnight Wednesday amid scuffles between police and anti-dam protesters. … The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) plans to hold training tours in Mongolia in August for top wrestlers, association officials said this week. It would be a first in sumo history. “Mongolia is perfect timing for us because of the promotion of Mongolian Hakuho to ozeki [the champion rank in sumo],” JSA Chairman Kitanoumi said. According to sumo officials, Mongolian Prime Minister Miyeegombyn Enkhbold hopes for such a tour, especially after he watched final-day matches of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament last month in Osaka.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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