Norway’s next step is key to Sri Lanka’s faltering peace: analysts

June 25, 2006 (AFP) – A tense calm has settled over Sri Lanka as the government and Tamil Tiger guerrillas await a decision from peace broker Norway that could make or break the fragile truce keeping the island from all-out war, analysts say. Norwegian diplomats who have struggled to bring the two sides together will meet Thursday with other Nordic nations to decide the fate of a truce monitoring mission, known by its acronym SLMM, that is observing the 2002 ceasefire.

“Both sides are poised to wait and see clearly what replies are given by the Norwegians,” said retired air force chief Harry Gunatillake.

“Now everything has stalled,” he said.

Peace efforts appeared close to breakdown earlier this month after a bus blast blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) killed 64 people, including 15 children.

The government retaliated with air strikes and artillery bombardments in the rebel-held north, and the tit-for-tat attacks seemed ready to spill into open warfare.

But the violence, which has killed more than 800 people since the start of the year, seems to have subsided — according to Gunatillake, only two or three people are dying each day in what he called a “low-intensity conflict”.

In the past week the