Norway points finger at EU for Sri Lanka talks breakdown

OSLO, June 9, 2006 (AFP) – Norway on Friday blamed the European Union for contributing to a breakdown in talks between Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers which has thrown the question of further Norwegian mediation wide open. The rebels on Thursday aborted a two-day meeting in Oslo with Colombo representatives arranged by Norway to discuss the safety of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) overseeing a fragile truce.

They said they objected to the presence of EU members in the SLMM following a decision by the EU last month to place the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on its list of terrorist organisations.

“There is no doubt that this is an underlying issue hardening the position of the LTTE prior to the Oslo meeting,” Norway’s minister for international development, Erik Solheim, told AFP.

As Norway pondered its future role after failed talks left their staff on the ground exposed and without explicit backing from the warring parties, it also blamed the two adversaries for their role in the breakdown of talks.

“The parties must take responsibility for the worsening situation. They have been acting contrary to our advice. There is at the present time no room for a Norwegian initiative in the pe