Sri Lanka asks Norway to revive peace bid: report

July 1, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government has asked Norway to help revive a moribund peace process amid an escalation of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, a press report said Sunday. More than 5,000 people have been killed in the new wave of fighting since December 2005 despite a truce in place since February 2002. A top aide of President Mahinda Rajapakse asked Norway’s peace facilitator Erik Solheim to send his envoy Jon Hannsen-Bauer for direct face-to-face talks with Tamil Tiger rebels and help resume peace negotiations, the Sunday Times said.

There was no immediate word from the government, but diplomatic sources said Oslo had been asking for clearance to travel to the rebel-held Wanni region to meet with the rebels to discuss the future of the peace initiative.

The Sri Lankan government has turned down requests for Norwegian diplomats here to cross front lines and meet with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leaders, saying that it was unsafe because of ongoing fighting.

The Sunday Times said that the decision to invite a Norwegian envoy to travel to Wanni was an indication that the Colombo government was ready to save a collapsing truce and revive the pea