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Ceasefire Agreement Buried?: 2006 - 2007
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Tracking the Norwegian Conflict Resolution Initiative
Sri Lanka asks Norway to revive peace bid
AFP, Monday, 2 July 2007
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s government has asked Norway to help
revive a moribund peace process amid an escalation of fighting between troops
and Tamil Tiger rebels, a press report said Sunday.
A top aide of President Mahinda Rajapakse asked Norway’s peace facilitator Erik
Solheim to send his envoy Jon Hannsen-Bauer for direct face-to-face talks with
Tamil Tiger rebels and help resume peace negotiations, the Sunday Times said.
There was no immediate word from the government, but diplomatic sources said
Oslo had been asking for clearance to travel to the rebel-held Wanni region to
meet with the rebels to discuss the future of the peace initiative.
The Sri Lankan government has turned down requests for Norwegian diplomats here
to cross front lines and meet with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
leaders, saying that it was unsafe because of ongoing fighting. The Sunday Times
said that the decision to invite a Norwegian envoy to travel to Wanni was an
indication that the Colombo government was ready to save a collapsing truce and
revive the peace process.
“It is also a reiteration of the government’s commitment to the ceasefire
agreement of February 2002,” the Times said. “Official pronouncements had
earlier cast doubts over the future of the ceasefire.” Peace talks between the
Sri Lankan government and the Tiger rebels collapsed in October last year
leading to a further escalation of fighting.
Norway held a meeting of Sri Lanka’s top aid donors last week in a bid to halt
the new wave of bloodshed, but there was no breakthrough following that
gathering. More than 5,000 people have been killed in the new wave of fighting
since December 2005 despite a truce in place since February 2002.