Sri Lanka responds to Norway's concerns
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo,
June 14th, 2006, 8:00 pm.
The government on Wednesday sent a curt reply to Norwegian peace
brokers reaffirming its commitment to the peace process but raising
objection to theTamil Tigers being similarly asked to grant diplomatic
immunity for European truce monitors, senior officials said.
The single-page letter was in response to a request by Norway on June
8, seeking written assurances from Sri Lanka President Mahinda
Rajapakse and Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to five
questions about the parties' commitment to the present peace bid.
The questions were;
1.Will the parties stand committed to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of
22 February 2002?
2. Do the parties want the continued existence and operation of the
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission as a mission coordinated, facilitated and
led by the Royal Norwegian Government with diplomatic immunity to
ensure its impartial operation?
3. Are the parties able to provide full security guarantees for all
monitors, employees and physical assets of the SLMM in all situations,
in accordance with CFA Article 3.9?
4. Will the parties accept amendments to CFA Article 3.5 in order to
enable the continued functioning of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
at its current operational levels and with the necessary security
5. In the event that amendments to Article 3.5 are made, will the
parties provide full security guarantees for current SLMM personnel
and assets during a six-month transition phase until an amended
solution has been identified, decided and fully implemented?
The government's peace secretariat did not respond to each question
individually but replied in the "affirmative," as a whole, Palitha
Kohona, head of the government's peace secretariat said, confirming
the government had sent a written reply to Norway.
"As a sovereign state, we don't need to reaffirm the commitment we
made under the cease-fire agreement and soma," he said.
In its response, the government also drew attention to the second
question on diplomatic immunity and stressed it applies only to
sovereign states, implying that it is not for the Tigers to provide
Norway's letter titled "Norway profoundly concerned with grave
situation in Sri Lanka," was sent to the parties' hours after
scheduled talks between the government and the rebels collapsed in
Oslo, Norway on Thursday. The Tigers at the ninety-ninth moment said
they would not participate on the grounds that the Sri Lankan
delegation was too low-level.
The talks were to only discuss operations and security of unarmed
truce monitors but many hoped it would serve to melt escalating
tensions between the government and the rebels.
The Tigers also informed Norway they wanted cease-fire monitors from
Sweden, Denmark and Finland to exit from the truce mission as they
were apart of the 25-member EU-bloc, which included the rebels on a
list of terrorist organizations last month.
The Tiger delegation that flew to Oslo, returned earlier Wednesday.
The rebel leader is yet to respond to Norway's letter.
"The responses by the parties to these questions will determine which
steps will next have to be taken by the Royal Norwegian Government and
the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, in close partnership with other
actors in the international community," Norway said.
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Published: Wed Jun 14 11:23:19 EDT 2006