UNP first to seek Norway's help - Bondevik
[TamilNet, Thursday, 17 August 2000, 19:03 GMT]
The United National Party was the first to seek Norway's assistance in the effort to find a political settlement to the ethnic conflict on the island when it was in power in 1990 according to Mr.Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Norwegian Prime Minister. he made this statement when delivering the keynote address at the commemoration meeting to mark the first death anniversary of veteran foreign minister A.C.S.Hameed, held at Colombo Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall Thursday evening.
In a speech entitled "International Understanding and Peace in a fast changing world", Mr.Bondevik told the audience that in 1990 when the cease fire between the then UNP government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) came to an end without a settlement, late A.C.S Hameed in the capacity of foreign minister sought the assistance of Norwegian government to find a political solution.
He added that Norway is presently playing the role of a facilitator between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to broker a peace deal, on a request made by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. Norway is not expecting any gain from this role, he said.
Mr.Bondevik pointed out that Norway's long history in its efforts to bring peace to the island.
Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, Leader of the Opposition and UNP President said that late Mr.Hameed met Dr.Anton Balasingham, advisor to the LTTE in London and had discussions with him one week before his death. On his return Mr.Hameed informed Mr Wickremasinghe of the outcome of the talks he had with Dr.Balasingham. As Mr.Hameed had the ability to conduct direct talks with the LTTE, he had discussions with Mr.Balasingham in London.
Minister and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress M.H.M.Ashraff criticized those who wanted to solve the present crisis without involving the LTTE. He appealed to all political parties to co-operate to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict by shedding petty differences.
Mr.Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the United National Party questioned how his party could extend its co-operation to a political settlement which has no blessing from the majority community.
03.09.99 A.C.S.Hameed dies in Colombo