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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

Norway blames LTTE for the failure of talks in Oslo

Oslo, 09 June, (Asiantribune.com): Blocked by the intransigence of the LTTE Norway has blamed the Tiger delegation for obstructing the meeting of both parties scheduled to be held in Oslo.

The Sri Lanka Government delegation led by Palitha Kohona and the LTTE delegation led by S. P. Thamilchelvan went to Oslo to meet and thrash out differences on the escalating violence and the role of the Truce Monitors.

But from the time the LTTE delegation arrived they raised objections and went back on the agreed intentions and the modalities for the meeting.

A Norwegian press release said: “After having accepted the Norwegian invitation, and after having arrived in Norway, the LTTE raised objections to the previously communicated intentions and modalities for the meeting. This was the reason for the meeting not being held.

“By this a critical opportunity has been lost for the peoples of Sri Lanka who so desperately need their leaders on both sides to renew their obligation to uphold the CFA and other CFA-related commitments and to improve security,” said the press release.

Also, as reported exclusively by the Asian Tribune, the LTTE demand to Sack the Truce Monitors from the Nordic countries has been confirmed in the Norwegian press release. The press release states that 37 out of the 57 Truce Monitors come from these Nordic countries. The objection by the LTTE to collaborate with the SLMM with its present composition is of “profound concern” to Norway, says the press release.

Unable to proceed any further because of LTTE objections to the Truce Monitors and intransigence Norway has taken “the unprecedented step” of issuing five question to both the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapakse and the LTTE head, Velupillai Prabhakaran asking both parties to answer issues related to the Truce Monitors. All five questions relate the role and security of the Truce Monitors as defined in the Ceasefire Agreement.

The LTTE which welcomed the Nordic countries initially has threatened to attack the Sri Lankan navy ships carrying Truce Monitors. The press release has not mentioned any possibility of the LTTE guaranteeing the security of Truce Monitors, or their acceptance as Truce Monitors in future. It ends on an ominous note with Norway threatening to consider further steps, along with the international community, if the responses to the questions are not conducive for the Truce Monitors to functions effectively.

Here is the full text of the Norwegian press release:

Norway profoundly concerned with grave situation in Sri Lanka

The grave situation in Sri Lanka, with escalating violence in breach of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), is intolerable for the civilian population and a cause of great concern to the international community. As expressed in no uncertain terms by the Tokyo Co-Chairs in their statement of 30 May, the full responsibility for halting violence and giving the peace process a new start, rests with the parties.

The Royal Norwegian Government regrets that it was not possible to hold the foreseen and much needed meeting between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to assess the difficult situation in Sri Lanka and to address the safety and security of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

After having accepted the Norwegian invitation, and after having arrived in Norway, the LTTE raised objections to the previously communicated intentions and modalities for the meeting. This was the reason for the meeting not being held.

By this a critical opportunity has been lost for the peoples of Sri Lanka who so desperately need their leaders on both sides to renew their obligation to uphold the CFA and other CFA-related commitments and to improve security.

The Royal Norwegian Government has been informed that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is not ready to accept SLMM monitors originating from states which separately or by membership in international organisations have included the LTTE on lists for the application of specific measures to combat terrorism. At present, 37 out of 57 monitors originate from these countries.

By not being able to address this urgent issue in the presence of both parties, the Royal Norwegian Government and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission have been seriously hampered in their efforts to find a future solution for the SLMM and thereby encourage respect for the CFA and its effective monitoring.

The Royal Norwegian Government is profoundly concerned with the gravity of the situation on the ground, the objection by the LTTE to collaborate with the SLMM with its present composition, the lack of dialogue between the parties, and the doubts voiced by many about the continued full commitment of the parties to the Ceasefire Agreement.

On this background the Royal Norwegian Government have deemed it necessary to take the unprecedented step of requesting both parties, through letters to President Mahinda Rajapakse and the LTTE leader Mr Vellupilai Prabhakaran, to provide responses in writing to five critical questions.

1. Will the parties stand committed to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of 22 February 2002?

2. Do the parties want the continued existence and operation of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission as a mission coordinated, facilitated and led by the Royal Norwegian Government with diplomatic immunity to ensure its impartial operation?

3. Are the parties able to provide full security guarantees for all monitors, employees and physical assets of the SLMM in all situations, in accordance with CFA Article 3.9?

4. Will the parties accept amendments to CFA Article 3.5 in order to enable the continued functioning of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission at its current operational levels and with the necessary security guarantees?

5. In the event that amendments to Article 3.5 are made, will the parties provide full security guarantees for current SLMM personnel and assets during a six-month transition phase until an amended solution has been identified, decided and fully implemented?

The responses by the parties to these questions will determine which steps will next have to be taken by the Royal Norwegian Government and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, in close partnership with other actors in the international community.

The Ceasefire Agreement is available at the following site: http://www.slmm.lk

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