Norway envoy holds talks with Sri Lanka PM on saving truce

Apr.19 (AFP) – Norway’s new peace envoy to Sri Lanka has held talks with Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake on moves to salvage the island’s tottering ceasefire, government officials said Wednesday. Jon Hanssen-Bauer advanced his meeting with the prime minister to Tuesday, shortly after arriving in the island amid an upsurge in violence which the Colombo government blames on Tamil Tiger rebels.

“There was a meeting last night between the prime minister and the Norwegian envoy,” a spokesman for the premier’s office said without giving details of their discussions.

As Hanssen-Bauer arrived Tuesday, Colombo agreed to helicopter rides for Tiger rebels in a bid to clear the way for truce talks in Switzerland next week.

Colombo’s top official handling the peace process, Palitha Kohona, said they told peace broker Norway that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) could charter a helicopter to transport their field commanders for a central committee meeting.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers and diplomatic sources said they expected a response only once Hanssen-Bauer holds meetings with the Tiger leadership on Thursday.

The latest impasse in ceasefire talks is linked