Norway washes hands of Lanka

New Delhi, November 29:

Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer will visit Sri Lanka this week but Oslo has decided not to take any more peace initiatives following a virtual state of war in the island nation.

Hanssen-Bauer will be in Colombo shortly after President Mahinda Rajapakse returns from New Delhi and shall also travel to the northern town of Kilinochchi to meet leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Informed sources told this correspondent that the visit was to tell the two protagonists that while Norway would remain in touch with them directly and indirectly, it has no further intention of launching any peace move unless they genuinely decide to shake hands.

“Colombo and LTTE are not ready for any peace process,” the source said dismissively, reflecting the deepening despondency in the international community overseeing Sri Lanka.

India, which has vital stakes in Sri Lanka, is being kept informed of the Norwegian decision that follows months of relentless fighting involving the military, the Tigers and Tamil groups opposed to LTTE.

The latest twist in the bloody Sri Lankan drama follows a virtual declaration of war by LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran on Monday when he called the 2002 Norway-sponsored ceasefire agreement (CFA) defunct.

Meanwhile, in Colombo, European ceasefire monitors said the rebels have not quit the truce despite calling it “defunct.” Thorfinnur Omarsson, a spokesman for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, said the Tamil Tigers assured truce officials they would not withdraw from the 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire during a meeting in Kilinochchi yesterday.