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DATE=1/20/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=LANKA / DEVOLUTION (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-258252 BYLINE=VANDANA CHOPRA DATELINE=COLOMBO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: In an effort to end years of civil war that have devastated the country, the Sri Lankan government says that it will begin talks on delegating powers from the central government to local regions. Vandana Chopra has the report from Colomba. TEXT: The state radio said Thursday that the government plans to discuss devolution proposals with all political parties as well as with Tamil Tiger rebels, who have, since 1983, been fighting for a separate homeland in the northeastern part of the country. When these talks are completed, the radio said, the government will send a draft constitution containing the proposals to parliament. The new measures, if approved by parliament, would delegate more powers to regional councils, including a council in the northeast of the country that would be administered by minority Tamils. The government hopes the proposals, once made part of the constitution, will encourage the Tamil rebels to end their campaign for a separate homeland. On Wednesday, the main opposition, the United National Party, pledged its support for the government's initiative. The government needs the backing of the U-N-P if it is going to get the two-thirds majority it needs for approval of the reforms. Sri Lanka's president, Chandrika Kumaratunga, who won a second term as president in elections at the end of last year, vowed during her campaign that she would take steps to end the war that has led to the deaths of thousands. President Kumaratunga held talks with the rebels in 1994, shortly after being elected president, but the talks failed after the rebels accused the president of not being serious. (Signed) NEB/VC/KL 20-Jan-2000 12:21 PM EDT (20-Jan-2000 1721 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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