Solheim to meet Balasingham

[TamilNet, Sunday, 21 January 2001, 18:48 GMT]
The Norwegian government, the official peace facilitator in the Sri Lankan conflict, is renewing efforts to persuade the government and the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to avoid actions which might escalate the present hostilities into renewed all out war, thereby impairing Oslo’s ongoing peace initiative, diplomatic sources in Colombo said Sunday.

Mr. Erik Solheim, the Norwegian Special Envoy for Sri Lanka, will visit London Monday to meet Anton Balasingham, the LTTE’s chief negotiator to explore the feasibility of preventing the escalation of the war.

The LTTE’s unilateral cessation of hostilities expires on January 24 and the organisation has threatened all-out war if Sri Lanka fails to respond to its peace gesture and continues its offensive in the Jaffna peninsula.

Mr. Solheim is expected to lobby the LTTE leadership to consider extending the cease-fire for a further period to avoid an all-out military confrontation, the sources said.

In the meantime, Mr.Jon Westborg, the Norwegian Ambassador for Sri Lanka met Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mr. Laksman Kadigamar, last Friday in Colombo, to discuss the modalities of implementing the Norwegian peace plan for de-escalating the conflict, the sources added.

The LTTE has already expressed its willingness to consider the plan favourably, they said.

The Sri Lanka government though it favoured the Norwegian proposal, is firmly opposed to the process of de-escalation inherent in the peace plan, the diplomatic sources said. Having rejected the LTTE’s self-imposed cessation of hostilities as a ‘farce’ the Sri Lanka government is determined to prosecute the war, they said.

 

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