Sri Lanka halts Norway envoy’s peace mission

COLOMBO, April 23, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka asked peace broker Norway to suspend a planned visit Monday to Tamil rebel-held territory in the island’s north, diplomatic sources said. The Sri Lankan government told Norway’s top envoy here, Hans Brattskar, not to proceed with his visit to the town of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (206 miles) north of here, for “security reasons.”

“Citing security reasons, the government last night asked the Norwegian diplomat not to go ahead with the visit,” a diplomatic source close to the peace process said. “They have not said when the visit can take place again.”

Brattskar had met with Sri Lanka’s peace negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva, who is also the health minister, as part of routine consultations with the warring parties in the island.

Norwegian-brokered talks between the two sides ended in failure in October and led to more fighting in the island’s embattled north and east despite an Oslo-arranged truce agreed in February 2002.

Nordic truce monitors say the ceasefire is holding only on paper. More than 4,000 people have been killed in a new wave of fighting since December 2005. Tamil Tiger rebels are leading a drawn-out cam