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Solheim apprises India on Geneva talks

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 7 (UNI) Ahead of Geneva talks, Mr Erik Solheim, in charge of the Norwegian involvement in the Sri Lankan peace talks, today met Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and apprised India of the progress made so far.

Mr Solheim, who is now the minister of Developmnt Cooperation, is in Delhi after a brief visit to Colombo during which he held discussions with LTTE leaders in Wanni and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse. He is accompanied by newly appointed special advisor Jon Hanssen Bauer.

''India is and will always be committed to find a negotiable solution to the ethnic problem within the unitary framework of the Sri Lankan Constitution", is the response from Indian side, Mr Solheim told newspersons.

Acknowledging that path to peace is a very very difficult process, the Norwgian facilitators said they were optimistic that the April 19-21 talks in Geneva would go ahead. Both the parties would sit together to defuse tension and engage in Confidence Building Measures, he added.

On developments since February, Mr Solheim said there had been lack of implementaion of what was agreed upon in Geneva between the two parties.

The LTTE had been complaining that Colombo was not sincere in disengaging the paramiltiaries, a group supported by the rebel leader Karuna.

The Sri Lankan government accused the LTTE for violatingthe ceasefire agreement singned in 2002.

''Mere talks alone would not solve any problem. Both, the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government should chalk out a schedule to defuse tension and refrain from violence. Both the parties should think more on the CBMs,'' Mr Solheim said.

As far as the agenda for the next round of talksis concerned he said both sides would take stock of the situation. The two sides would then be presented a report by the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission.

Asked why the JVP, the Marxist oriented supporter of the ruling party in Colombo had a different view on peace talks and the Norwegian role, he said, ''We are always ready to meet them to remove any apprehensions.

UNI PMD AK RS1750

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