Norway reiterates commitment to Sri Lanka peace process

OSLO, June 26, 2006 (AFP) – Norway is determined to continue its mediation efforts in Sri Lanka despite a flare-up in violence on the island and uncertainty about the role of Nordic peace observers, Norwegian officials said on Monday. “Norway remains committed to Sri Lanka, in good times and bad times,” Norway’s special envoy to the island, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, told AFP.

Asked whether Norway would consider suspending its mediation efforts, Hanssen-Bauer replied: “That’s not something we are working on.”

On Monday, Tiger political wing leader S. P. Thamilselvan told the website that war would be “unavoidable” if Norway pulled out after June 29 crisis talks to discuss the future of the Sri Lanka truce monitoring mission.

He said such a decision “would signal an end to the already fragile ceasefire and plunge the island into war,” the pro-rebel website reported.

“There is no question of Norway pulling out,” Erik Solheim, Norway’s development aid minister and the main mediator for Sri Lanka, said.

“Our patience is almost unlimited but those who are impatient are the civilians” who have suffered through the three-decade long conflict, he told Norwegian public radio NRK.

The Tamil Tiger rebels have questi