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The civil war that has torn Sri Lanka apart since 1983 may finally find resolution, thanks to bipartisan support for peace talks by the island's main political players: President Kumaratunga's People's Alliance and Prime Minister Wickramasinghe's rival United National party. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) agreed to renew a ceasefire agreement in January 2002, while the Sri Lankan government lifted the seven-year-old embargo on LTTE-controlled areas of the island.

Despite the apparent success of the Norwegian-brokered peace talks, much of Sri Lanka is still considered quite dangerous for travelers. Areas to the north and east of Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Badulla are best avoided. The Jaffna Peninsula is basically off. Visitors traveling on major inter-city routes, particularly those linking the north and south of the island, may be searched by local and less-than-official armed militias called Home Guards. In Colombo and southern tourist resorts, theft and violent crime are often aimed at foreigners.

That said, southwestern Sri Lanka is safer now than it has been in years, and the rest of the country may re-open to tourism in the near future.

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