Tigers support peace drive, doubts over European monitors

June 20, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to a truce despite surging violence, but said the future of ceasefire monitors from Denmark, Finland and Sweden is still in the balance. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they would discuss the issue of ceasefire observers from European Union member states at a meeting Wednesday with peace broker Norway.

The EU outlawed the Tigers last month in a move that cut off funding and was apparently aimed in part at forcing the rebels back the negotiating table they left in April 2003.

“This is a matter that will be discussed tomorrow with the (Norwegian) facilitator,” LTTE’s peace secretariat chief S. Puleedevan told AFP when contacted via satellite phone at the rebels’ political headquarters of Kilinochchi.
“We don’t want to say anything right now.”

The LTTE in talks with Norwegian envoys earlier this month said they did not want nationals from Finland, Sweden and Denmark in the 60-member Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

Norway and Iceland, two non-European Union member states, also provide monitors to the SLMM to observe a shaky ceasefire that has been in place since February 2002 but is under pressure