Purring Tigers

How determined are the peacemakers toiling to end Sri Lanka's 19-year civil war? On the eve of last week's peace talks in Oslo, the mother of a key mediator, Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen, died of cancer. Helgesen received a message from his father excusing him from the funeral. Don't worry about saying goodbye, he told his 34-year-old son. Stay there. Finish the job.

By week's end, Helgesen was close. Negotiators from the rebel Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam and the Sri Lankan government had made such remarkable progress that a return to the conflict—which has cost...

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