2ND LEAD (added details)

Truce talks in Geneva on February 22

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 February 2006, 15:34 GMT]
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday evening informed the press that the parties to the conflict in Sri Lanka, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, have asked Norway to facilitate talks in Geneva from 22 to 23 February. The announcement comes following the meeting between the Norwegian International Development Minister Mr. Erik Solheim and the Liberation Tigers Chief Negotiator and Political Strategist Mr. Anton Balasingham in London, and Mr. Solheim's consultations with the Government of Sri Lanka following his meeting with Mr. Balasingham.

Mr. Balasingham conveyed LTTE leadership's suggestion on the dates for the talks on the implementation of the February 2002 Cease Fire Agreement (CFA).

Mr. Solheim, following his meeting with Mr. Balasingham, and consultations with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), fixed the date, with the approval of both the protagonists to the conflict. The agreed date for commencing talks in Geneva was announced by the Norwegian MFA, according to the agreed protocol, sources in London told TamilNet.

"The parties will discuss how they can improve the implementation of the ceasefire agreement that was signed on 22 February 2002," the press release by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. This is the first time in three years that the parties meet face-to-face at such a high level. The parties meet on the fourth year anniversary on the February 22 CFA agreement to improve the implementation of the CFA.

Full text of the Press Release issued by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs follows:

Norway to facilitate talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Geneva 22-23 February

The parties to the conflict in Sri Lanka, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, have asked Norway to facilitate talks in Geneva from 22 to 23 February. The parties will discuss how they can improve the implementation of the ceasefire agreement that was signed on 22 February 2002. This is the first time in three years that the parties meet face-to-face at such a high level.

“It is very positive that the parties have agreed to meet at high level to discuss how to improve the serious security situation,” says International Development Minister Erik Solheim. “Norway, in its role as facilitator, will do its best to help the parties find a practical solution to relieve the pressure the ceasefire has come under.

“The parties are taking a small but very significant step towards putting the peace process back on a positive track. And we expect the negotiations to be tough,” underlined Mr Solheim.

The International Development Minister will lead the Norwegian delegation, which includes Ambassador Hans Brattskar and Vidar Helgesen. The head of the civilian Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Hagrup Haukland, will also be present.

“The parties have chosen Geneva for their meeting because of the very supportive role Switzerland has always played in the peace process,” the Minister added.

 

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