Norway reaffirms Sri Lanka peace broker role

STOCKHOLM, June 10, 2006 (AFP) – Norway said Saturday it would continue to act as peace broker between Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels despite the recent breakdown in talks between the two sides, which had thrown its role into doubt. The rebels on Thursday aborted a two-day meeting in Oslo with Colombo representatives arranged by Norway to discuss the safety of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) overseeing a fragile truce in the island nation.

“It’s not all negative, we stand ready to help both parties in any way to take the peace process forward,” Norway’s special envoy for the peace process, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, told AFP by telephone from the Norwegian capital.

The possibility for progress lay however with the parties themselves, Hanssen-Bauer stressed.

“It is up to the two sides to come forward with their own initiatives and ideas,” he said.

“Norway will not be taking any new initiatives,” Hanssen-Bauer added.

The Scandinavian country, which has been Sri Lanka’s peace broker since January 2000, declared the Oslo talks a failure when it could not orchestrate a face-to-face encounter between the two, blaming the Tigers for the breakdown.

Norwegian officials also faulted the European Union for offending th