Norway bids to save Sri Lanka peace process

Chandi Dharmaratne

COLOMBO, Sept 6, 2006 (AFP) – Norway’s top envoy sought to salvage Sri Lanka’s peace process in talks with Tamil Tigers on Wednesday as the rebels vowed retaliation for heavy bombing that led to the capture of a key town.

“There is no particular agenda, but obviously today’s situation will be discussed,” Erik Ivo Nurnberg told AFP before the meeting began.

On Monday, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse announced security forces had wrested control of the town of Sampur from the Tigers, who were using it as a base to fire artillery at the region’s strategic port of Trincomalee.

Rajapakse said the military success would not lead to a full-scale war with the guerrillas and instead asked them to resume peace talks stalled since April 2003.

The Norwegian ambassador, Hans Brattskar, travelled to the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi and met Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) political wing chief S. P. Thamilselvan who issued the retaliation threat, officials said.

Thamilselvan accused the government of placing minority Tamil civilians at risk through a campaign of air attacks and shelling in a statement posted on the LTTE website.

“He warned that the (majority) Sinhala population will have to