Norway’s new peace envoy opens talks with Sri Lankan rebels

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe (2nd R) arrives to visit the site of a bomb attack at St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - A string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing at least 156 people, including 35 foreigners. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Apr.05 (AFP) – Norway’s new peace envoy opened talks with Tamil Tiger rebels Wednesday as the Sri Lankan government’s key electoral partner renewed calls for removing Oslo from the negotiations. Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Oslo’s newly appointed emissary, travelled to the rebel-held northern town of Kilinochchi on Wednesday for discussions with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), officials and the rebels said.

A Tiger website said Hanssen-Bauer was accompanied in a military helicopter by Norway’s ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar.

The Tigers said he was holding talks with LTTE political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan but gave no details.

The envoy’s visit came as the government’s main Marxist ally, the JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, called for expelling Norway as a peacebroker.

JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa accused Oslo of bias in favour of the Tamil Tigers and charged that it could become the first nation to recognise a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka.

“Norway will be the first country to accept them (Tigers),” Weerawansa said in remarks published in the Daily Mirror newspaper.

Norway rejects any allegation of favouritism toward the rebels.

The JVP call c