Norwegian peace envoy arrives in Colombo to salvage shaky truce
Colombo, Apr 18 (UNI) Norwegian special peace envoy to Sri Lanka's peace process, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, arrived here this evening on an unscheduled visit to engage in shuttle diplomacy to salvage the ceasefire that is increasingly under threat and to ensure that the parties attend the next round of direct talks in Geneva.
"Mr. Bauer will start meeting the government leaders tomorrow and will visit Kilinochchi on Thursday for meetings with LTTE leaders," Norwegian Embassy spokesman, Erik Nurnberg told UNI over phone.
Over 50 security forces personnel and civilians have been killed during the past couple of weeks in the stepped-up attacks on government security forces by the suspected LTTE cadres. The LTTE too has accused the government of using the "deep penetration unit" of the army of placing claymore mines in the areas controlled by them.
His visit has come a couple of days after the LTTE announced that the organization would not attend the proposed direct talks in Geneva rescheduled to be held on April 24 and 25, "until the hurdles" in relation to the travelling of its eastern commanders to the Wanni for meeting with the rebel leadership "are removed".
LTTE's political wing head, S.P. Thamilselvan in a strong letter to the Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar on Sunday stated that the organization was 'saddened" that by blocking their air and sea travel arrangements it was placed in the difficult situation where their negotiating team was unable to attend the Geneva talks.
"We therefore, hereby wish to inform you with sadness that until the hurdles in front of us to attend Geneva talks are removed and a more conducive environment created, our Geneva team is unable to come to the Geneva talks," the Tamilnet website has quoted Mr.
Thamilselvan as stating in the letter.
"For future efforts, I am sure you would understand the importance of pressuring the GoSL, to implement the CFA in letter and spirit, to implement in particular what was agreed upon at the Geneva talks, and to prevent it from altering the practices already put in place.
It is only through these measures the conducive environment for future peace talks will be created," Mr. Thamilselvan has informed the Norwegian facilitators.
UNI XC SY KP2140