Norway puts Sri Lanka on notice amid fresh war fears

June 9, 2006 (AFP) – Norway was reconsidering its peacebroker role Friday as Tiger rebels aborted talks and demanded the removal of ceasefire monitors from European Union member states. On Thursday, at least 19 people were reported killed across the troubled northern and eastern regions, pushing the death toll since December to more than 680. The collapse of face-to-face talks arranged by Norway fuelled fears that Sri Lanka was sliding back to full-scale war amid deteriorating security and the killing of at least 680 people since December, according to an official count.

“The parties must take responsibility for the worsening situation,” Norway’s top peace envoy Erik Solheim told AFP in Oslo. “They have been acting contrary to our advice.

“There is at the present time no room for a Norwegian initiative in the peace process,” an angry Solheim said.

However, the Sri Lankan government Friday reiterated that it was still ready for a peaceful settlement to the ethnic conflict which has claimed at least 60,000 lives since 1972.

“We have not lost hope,” media minister Anura Yapa said. “Still, we believe we can start negotiations and come into some agreement with the LTTE (Libera