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LTTE considering Norway's invitation

Norway has invited LTTE to Oslo for talks on June 8 on the role of the truce monitors, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 11:09 IST

The LTTE is "considering" Norway's invitation to come to Oslo for talks on the role of the Scandinavian truce monitors on June 8 and 9.

A proposal for talks on the truce monitors was made by the Norwegian Peace Envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, when he met the LTTE's political wing leader SP Tamilselvan at Kilinochchi on Saturday.

Briefing the press later, Tamilselvan said that the LTTE's leadership would discuss the proposal and announce its decision in a day or two.

He said that the Oslo meeting was basically between the Nordic countries involved in truce monitoring, but Norway had invited the LTTE to take part in the meeting.

However, the Sri Lankan government has been given to understand by the Norwegian peace brokers that the LTTE has agreed to come for talks on the matter.

Asked for his reaction, the Head of the Sri Lankan government's Peace Secretariat Dr Palitha Kohona told Hindustan Times that the LTTE's decision was to be welcomed even though the Oslo meeting would only be a "limited engagement."

"The LTTE is not going to discuss the peace process. Nevertheless, the decision to discuss the monitors' role is welcome because it comes under the Ceasefire Agreement," he said.

"We hope that the LTTE will eventually come back to the negotiating table and discuss the peace process," Dr Kohona added.

Mounting international pressure

Political observers believe that two factors might have shaped the LTTE's stand.

One is that it faces a ban in the European Union countries and that the ban may come by May 29.

The other is that the Norwegian peace brokers are under pressure from the Sri Lankan government and the United States to be tough on the LTTE.

The international community is of the view that while the Sri Lankan government has consistently been for a resumption of peace talks, (the last one was held in February 2006) the LTTE has been trotting out excuses for not going for talks.

While the government has been observing restraint in the face of daily provocations by the LTTE (the killing of security forces personnel has become routine) the LTTE has been very belligerent.

And while the government has been manifestly accommodative towards the Scandinavian truce monitors, the LTTE has shown scant respect for them, even firing on ships carrying them, or attacking their offices.

Only recently, following some grave incidents in the sea, the monitors had temporarily called off their work in the sea. Earlier, they had suspended their work on land in Jaffna.

The threat to the lives of the Scandinavian truce monitors had put the Norwegian peace brokers in an awkward and untenable position. Their alleged 'soft line' towards the LTTE began to have fewer takers in Sri Lankan and international circles, political observers said.