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Fears for Sri Lanka's peace process rise as Norway fails to end deadlock

A top Norwegian envoy who failed in his latest effort to revive Sri Lanka’s peace talks has warned both parties to honour a truce or risk a return to full-scale war, diplomats said. Oslo’s envoy, Erik Solheim, ended his mission a day after talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga, but was unable to win agreement on ending a 20-month deadlock on restarting the talks, diplomats said. “It is true that the peace process is at a low ebb, but we take a long-term view,” Solheim told reporters late Thursday. “This has been going on for three years and there is no peace process that did not last longer.” However, he said he stressed to both the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that they must exercise maximum restraint and abide by the Oslo-brokered truce that has been in place since February 2002. Solheim was due to travel to India Friday to brief New Delhi on Sri Lankan developments. Norway has kept India informed as it is considered the major regional player with an interest in the peace process.Asian diplomatic sources close to the process said conflicts within Kumaratunga’s coalition were hampering progress and had heightened fears of a return to war. As Solheim began his latest salvage attempt earlier this week, international aid donors pressed the president to rein in her Marxist coalition partner, the JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, which is bitterly opposed to the Tigers.Full Story

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