Norway peace envoy says ‘major crisis’ looming in Sri Lanka

NEW DELHI, May 27, 2006 (AFP) – Norway’s top peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Eric Solheim, said Saturday a major crisis was brewing in the tropical island and that it could be headed back to full-scale civil war.

Norway was committed to its role as facilitator despite the problems in the situation, he said.

“We will be available even if it becomes more ugly and more violent,” he said.

Solheim, who was to meet India’s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and senior foreign ministry officials, said Norway was “passing messages from India to the LTTE to show restraint and come back to the peace.”

India, which banned the LTTE after it was suspected of assassinating former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, has been a supporter of the peace process.

New Delhi has steered clear of involvement in the conflict since its disastrous military intervention during the 1980s ordered by Gandhi.

New Delhi dispatched a peacekeeping force to Tamil-held areas that later became engaged in open war with the guerrillas and was obliged to withdraw.

The Norwegian envoy is to leave Sunday for Tokyo for a Sri Lanka donors’ conference to be held early next week that will review the peace proces