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Sri Lanka Signs Tsunami Aid Pact With Tamil Rebels

Officials in Sri Lanka say the government has signed a controversial deal to share the distribution of billions of dollars in tsunami aid with the Tamil rebels.

Media reports say the deal, signed today (Friday), is expected to be signed by the rebels later in the day.

Under the agreement, committees comprising rebels, government officials and Muslims would recommend and monitor aid projects in areas affected by the December 26th tsunami.

The plan has been held up for months because of political squabbling that has split the ruling coalition. Opponents of the plan say it would raise the rebels' legitimacy in the international community, undermining Sri Lanka's sovereignty.

The rebels say the pact could help re-start stalled talks aimed at converting a three-year ceasefire into permanent peace.