Norway envoy to lay groundwork

New Delhi, September 28 :

Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer will reach Sri Lanka on Sunday to lay the groundwork for talks between the government and the Tamil Tigers, even while India has sought an early resumption of dialogue between the two parties.

Hanssen-Bauer’s trip follows the announcement in Colombo yesterday that Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran had assured the government that his group was ready to enter into “sincere talks” to find a solution to the ethnic conflict.

It is learnt that Hanssen-Bauer will meet government leaders in Colombo and then travel to Kilinochchi in the north to meet leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to know their minds on the possible venue and dates when they can meet and take forward their peace dialogue.

As and when the security situation improves, Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim will also proceed to Sri Lanka for a meeting with Prabhakaran.

The decisions on visits by Hanssen-Bauer and Solheim follow some hectic Norwegian diplomacy and a meeting of the international support group on Sri Lanka in Washington yesterday, all aimed at ending a violence spree that has claimed hundreds of lives this year and dislodged hundreds of thousands from their homes in the island’s northeast.