Norway envoy in talks amid tension in Sri Lanka

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim opened talks with officials here Monday amid growing concern for the stability of a ceasefire between Sri Lankan troops and Tiger rebels, officials said. Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim opened talks with officials here Monday amid growing concern for the stability of a ceasefire between Sri Lankan troops and Tiger rebels, officials said. Solheim, who arrived Sunday on his latest initiative to try and end the impasse in the Oslo-backed peace process, met Monday with truce monitors and key state and non governmental representatives.

Diplomats said he was concentrating on brokering a deal between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on distributing relief to tsunami survivors in rebel-held areas.

Talks were underway on a “joint mechanism” that President Chandrika Kumaratunga has already announced will be the foundation for a final peace deal with the guerrillas.

“I am quite optimistic,” Solheim told reporters in the northwestern district of Puttalam on Sunday.

“It may not be within this visit, but in a few weeks time the joint mechanism will come through.”

On Wednesday, Solheim will travel to the emb