Optimism grows over permanent ceasefire

[TamilNet, Monday, 28 January 2002, 18:14 GMT]
Substantial progress has been made in the ongoing facilitatory efforts by the Norwegian government to formalise and finalise a stable and structured ceasefire between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the organisation's chief negotiator and political advisor Anton Balasingham said Monday.

The Norwegian delegation headed by Mr. Helgesen met Mr. Balasingham at his London residence for three hours of deliberations Monday. Mr. Balasingham described the discussions as "cordial and constructive," but declined to elaborate. "Matters related to the ceasefire are progressing well,î he told TamilNet. When contacted by TamilNet regarding the visit to London by a Norwegian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen, Mr. Balasingham expressed optimism a mutually agreeable ceasefire could be signed by both sides before February 24, when the present unilateral cessations of hostilities are due to expire.

However, the LTTE's chief negotiator said that the meeting had covered the ceasefire terms and conditions, ground rules and modalities pertaining to the formulation of a permanent truce.

He said both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have submitted proposals to Oslo with regards to the formalisation of a permanent mutual ceasefire to replace the unilateral and separate cessations of hostilities being observed by both sides. Both declarations are due to expire on February 24.

Norway has been attempting to draft a document acceptable to both sides. Mr. Balasngham expressed hope that final document could be signed before February 24.

The Norwegian delegation also included Mr. Erik Solheim, Special Advisor to the Foreign Ministry, Kjirste Tromsdal, an official with the same Ministry and Mr. Jon Westborg, Oslo's Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

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(Photo:Tamil Guardian)

 

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