Norway says Sri Lanka peace hopes dim, offers exit route

Peace broker Norway Thursday said it would ask Sri Lanka’s feuding parties if they wanted to resume talks as Tamil Tiger rebels warned foreign aid donors not to interfere in the faltering peace process. The Norwegian embassy said Foreign Minister Jan Petersen would arrive in the island next week for talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the top Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran on taking the process forward.

“The purpose is to hear from the parties how they intend to proceed in order to improve respect for the ceasefire agreement, and whether they wish to move towards resuming negotiations,” the embassy statement said.

Petersen will be accompanied by the two Norwegian peace envoys, deputy foreign minister Vidar Helgesen and Special Advisor Erik Solheim, it said.

“Based on signals received from the parties over recent weeks, I do not have high expectations, but in difficult situations it is even more important to keep engaging with the parties,” the statement quoted Petersen as saying.

The Norwegian statement came as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they would not be bound by a June 2003 declaration issued by aid donors who linked a 4.5 billion dollar pa