World concerned over escalation of violence, Solheim calls for urgent talks

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 18:24 GMT]
The global community is gravely concerned over the rising tide of violence in the Jaffna peninsula and calling for urgent talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers to de-escalate the conflict. This message was conveyed to the LTTE’s Chief Negotiator and theoretician, Mr. Anton Balasingham when a high level Norwegian delegation met him at his London residence Tuesday morning, sources told TamilNet.

The Norwegian delegation comprised Mr. Erik Solheim, Minister of International Development and Special Envoy to the Sri Lanka Peace Process, Mr. Ola Brevik, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mr. Hans Brattskar, Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Mr. Sondre Bjotvedt, another MFA official, the sources said.

The discussions lasted three hours, sources added.

Explaining in detail about the deliberations of the crucial meeting of Co-Chairs of the donor community (US, EU, Japan and Norway) in Brussels Monday, Mr. Solheim said the international community favoured immediate talks between the parties in conflict in the implementation of the truce, without prolonging dispute over the venue.

The world community, Mr. Solheim pointed out, is alarmed at the sudden escalation in violence in Jaffna, which has the potential to break into a fully fledged conflict if it is not arrested in time.

Mr. Balasingham, while explaining the reality of the ground situation, blamed the Sri Lankan army of occupation for unleashing ruthless violence against university students and staff.

The armed forces are adopting high-handed repressive methods, utilising brutal force to suppress peaceful demonstrations by students and civilians, thereby generating public resentment and unrest in the northern city, Mr. Balasingham told the Norwegians.

The LTTE chief negotiator further explained that the non-implementation of some crucial obligations of the February 2002 ceasefire agreement was the main cause for the subversive violence in the Tamil homeland.

The Sri Lankan military’s intimidation, harassment and persecution of Tamils have increased manifold since the hardline General Sarath Fonseka became Chief of the Army, Mr. Balasingham explained.

The Norwegian delegation underscored the importance of resuming talks on the operative mechanism of the ceasefire without further delay.

Mr. Solheim pleaded that the venue should not be a major dispute for talks.

“It is of paramount importance that both parties should meet urgently and start talks towards consolidating the ceasefire agreement,” he told Mr. Balasingham.


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