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Norway fails to secure breakthrough in Sri Lanka talks

Wednesday 22 June 2005

Colombo, June. 22 (PTI): Norway today failed to secure a breakthrough in reviving Sri Lanka’s stalled peace process with a top envoy of the peace-broker leaving the LTTE-held region virtually empty handed, rebel sources said.

Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen, had a lengthy closed-door meeting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s political wing leader S P Thamilselvan, but there was no announcement of any deal.

Rebel sources said they did not decide on a timetable to finalise the controversial "joint mechanism" under which the rebels and the Government were expected to cooperate in distributing tsunami relief.

Helgesen carried a verbal message from President Chandrika Kumaratunga to the rebels on including Muslims, the second largest minority after Tamils, in the joint mechanism but there was no agreement on that too, the sources said.

"The President’s professed commitment to signing the Joint Mechanism is the only message that we got and we continue to get this message for quite some time now and proclamations alone are not sufficient..," Thamilselvan said in a statement.

He also warned that the fragile truce was "seriously threatened" and said protecting the ceasefire agreement was the big priority for them now.

The LTTE insisted that Muslims can be included in the process after the LTTE-Govt. joint mechanism was established.

Following the talks in the rebel-held north, Helgesen flew in a Sri Lankan military chopper to the eastern district of Ampara to meet with Muslim leaders there.

See online : The Hindu

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