Sri Lanka offers compromise as Norway moves to save peace bid

Manjula Mathews, President of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (L) and Yu Hwa Li, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (R) present Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director of Daraz (C) with Goodwill Ambassador Certificate

Jan 22. (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Sunday offered a compromise to end a deadlock in peace moves with Tamil rebels when a Norwegian envoy visits this week, following violence that has claimed 140 lives in two months. The government said it was ready to make concessions on a venue for talks when Norway’s International Development Minister Erik Solheim launches a mission Monday to salvage a 2002 ceasefire, in the face of almost daily killings of rebel supporters and government troops.

Proposed talks on shoring up the ceasefire between the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been held up over a bitter dispute on a possible venue, with the rebels calling for Oslo and the government backing an Asian capital.

“The president is now agreeable to go someplace else,” a senior official close to Rajapakse, who declined to be named, told AFP.

“Solheim will be told that we are ready to compromise on the venue issue in the interest of getting talks started.”

Government spokesman Nimal Siripala de Silva said he was hopeful that Solheim would be able to break the deadlock in the talks and get the two parties together for an ice-breaking meeting.