Sri Lanka offers safe passage for Tigers after fresh Norway bid

Apr.06 (AFP) – Sri Lanka gave security guarantees to Tiger rebels travelling to Switzerland for talks on saving their faltering ceasefire, a Norwegian minister said here Thursday after talks with the president. Norway’s International Development Minister Erik Solheim said President Mahinda Rajapakse agreed to Tamil Tiger demands for safe passage to Switzerland amid doubts if talks scheduled for April 19 will go ahead.

“The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) asked for clear-cut guarantees,” Solheim told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here. “The president gave clear guarantees that no harm will happen to the LTTE.”

The next round of talks was thrown into doubt after the Tigers insisted that Colombo should deliver on a promise made at talks in Switzerland in February to stop the activities of rival Tamils.

“We urge both to stick to the letter of the agreement and deliver on what was promised,” Solheim said.

He said the two “major issues” since the February talks were the suspected Tiger involvement in a suicide attack against a navy boat and Tamil demands that Sri Lanka disarm para-military units.

However, Solheim said a positive development was the de-escalation of violence since