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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

Erik Solheim cautions Sri Lanka for its decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement with Tamil Tigers

Oslo, 03 January, (Asiantribune.com): Erik Solheim, Norwegian Minister for International Development and the one who played a key role in the Norwegian facilitation peace process in Sri Lanka has cautioned the Sri Lanka Government over its decision to terminate the ceasefire agreement entered with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the separatist Sri Lankan Tamil rebel organization. Erik Solheim: “This would weaken efforts to protect the civilian population, which would be most regrettable.”Erik Solheim: “This would weaken efforts to protect the civilian population, which would be most regrettable.”

“I regret that the Government is taking this serious step,” said Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.

“This comes on top of the increasingly frequent and brutal acts of violence perpetrated by both parties, and I am deeply concerned that the violence and hostilities will now escalate even further.”

A press release by the Norway Foreign Ministry Points out, “The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to terminate the ceasefire agreement concluded with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 22 February 2002. Norway served as facilitator for the negotiations that led to the agreement. If either party wishes to terminate the agreement, it is required to give notice of termination to the Norwegian Government 14 days in advance.”

The termination of the agreement will primarily affect the Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), as its mandate is set out in the agreement. It may therefore be necessary to withdraw the mission, the press release adds.

“This would weaken efforts to protect the civilian population, which would be most regrettable,” said Mr Solheim.

In 2000, Norway was formally invited by Sri Lanka’s President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, and the LTTE to act as facilitator for the peace process in the country. The invitation was renewed most recently by President Rajapakse in January 2006. Despite the escalation of hostilities, Norway is maintaining a close dialogue with the parties. Since bringing the parties together in Geneva in October 2006, Norway has informed them that no further intiatives will be taken until requested by the parties themselves, the Norway Foreign Ministry Press release concludes. .

In the meantime yesterday Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers unanimously decided to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement entered with the LTTE in 2002.

The Cabinet has approved the Cabinet memorandum submitted by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanyaka at the Cabinet meeting yesterday.
According to sources the Cabinet has entrusted to Prime Minister Wickremanayaka the task of notifying the Norwegian facilitators regarding the Government's decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire.

According to the Agreement, either party should give two weeks notification prior to the withdrawal from the Ceasefire to the Norwegian facilitators.

- Asian Tribune -

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