Norwegian mediator ‘frustrated’ by Sri Lankan parties

OSLO, Apr.18 (AFP) – The main mediator in the Sri Lankan conflict, Erik Solheim of Norway, said Tuesday he was frustrated by the government’s and Tamil rebels’ lack of flexibility, which he said was endangering talks aimed at saving a shaky truce. “I have to admit that we’ve become a bit frustrated these past few days over the fact that the two parties are using so much time making demands on issues that seem like very tiny details and that they are so inflexible,” he told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.

In the space of one week, 64 people have been killed in attacks in northeastern Sri Lanka claimed by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for autonomy in the region.

On Sunday the rebels said they were suspending their participation in talks set to take place in Switzerland next week on saving the truce that has been place since February 2002.

In a letter to Norway, the LTTE said they would not attend the talks in Switzerland until Colombo removed “restrictions” on their cadres.

The issue “would have been pretty easy to resolve if there were a bit of flexibility on both sides,” Solheim said, urging both parties to resume discussions as soon as possible.

“I don’t know when, but sooner or later th