Norway envoy in talks amid tension in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

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