Nordic monitors say Lanka's conflict can't be solved militarily

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Colombo, Jan 16 (UNI) Outgoing Nordic truce monitors, who supervised the now abandoned Norwegian-brokered February 2002 truce deal between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, said the country's bloody ethnic conflict cannot be solved militarily.

''The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) is absolutely convinced that this complex conflict cannot be solved by military means,'' Maj Gen (Retd) Lars Jon Solvesberg, Head of the Nordic monitoring group, told reporters here today hours before winding up their operations in the island nation.

''I find it is to be my duty to come to this conclusion as we terminate our operations although it is not a task for the SLMM to advice the parties to the Ceasefire Agreement or other actors on how to find a solution,'' he said.

Refusing to predict what the future holds for Sri Lanka, Gen Solvesberg, however, said that the lack of progress in the peace dialogue has led to further mistrust between the two parties and the constant increase of the truce related violence.

He said there had been criticism as well as appreciation for the SLMM in the past, adding his mission has tried to be neutral in every single incident.

The SLMM, comprising members from the Nordic countries, came into operation in March 2002 to monitor the ceasefire agreement entered into between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE leadership on February 22, 2002.

With the Sri Lankan government giving a two-week mandatory notice, it officially comes to an end today.

''We will close the SLMM operations at 1900 hrs as of today. To the people of Sri Lanka, the SLMM is bidding farewell,'' Gen Solvesberg said, expressing hopes that the contributions by the SLMM would help the country.

''It is sad that we leave this resourceful and beautiful country at this point of time. We will miss out the opportunity to further adopt and contribute to the present situation and we will like to believe that Sri Lanka also will miss out something valuable,'' the SLMM chief said.

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