When Sri Lankan government officials and representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam begin talks in Thailand today, almost two decades of animosity will be on the table. Years, not days, of meetings lie ahead to resolve the dispute over territory and the tens of thousands of killings which have led to deep divisions in Sri Lankan society. But resolving the dispute goes beyond material claims and apportioning blame. It is a matter that constitutional change and foreign redevelopment aid cannot erase. The animosities stretch back beyond the start of the conflict and are mired in cultural and religious issues. The majority Sinhalese community has benefited from political decisions, while Tamils and Muslims have been increasingly sidelined and isolated. Sri Lankans do not expect any speedy resolution. They are thankful a ceasefire has held for nine months and that security has returned to the capital, Colombo. Both sides know that concessions have to be made and agreements forged. The post-September 11 environment puts extra pressure on the Tamil Tiger rebels to strike deals. But whatever is agreed will be meaningless without a fervent desire for change. The government and rebels have an obligation to the people of Sri Lanka to overcome their differences. Likewise, the country's citizens must respect any accords and work towards their implementation. Sri Lanka's future depends on complete co-operation.