Annan welcomes start of direct talks between Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Annan said he is “pleased that the two sides have successfully implemented the provisions of their ceasefire signed last February and are now entering substantive peace negotiations.” The Secretary-General hopes that the talks will lead to a political settlement of the internal conflict in Sri Lanka, which will preserve the country’s unity and integrity as well as take into account the needs and interests of all its communities, according to the statement. While paying tribute to the facilitation role played by the Government of Norway, Mr. Annan “looks forward to enhancing the United Nations role in support of the peace process, especially regarding peacebuilding activities,” the spokesman said.