The key strategist of a powerful Tamil rebel group waging a separatist war against the Sri Lankan government arrived Wednesday in Colombo for the first direct peace talks in three years.

Officials reported Anton Balasingham, the leader of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, landed at dawn aboard an Air Lanka flight from London.Armed security personnel imposed a tight cordon around Colombo International Airport, enforcing President Ranasinghe Premadasa's promise that the rebel leader would be given full protection.