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More Norway, Iceland officials in SLMM

These countries are compensating for pull out of monitors by EU countries by Aug end, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2006 20:32 IST

Norway and Iceland have announced that they will be increasing their presence in the Sri Lanka Truce Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in view of the withdrawal of monitors from the European Union (EU) countries by the end of August.

Spokesman of the SLMM, Thorfinnur Omarsson, told Hindustan Times on Saturday that Norway's contingent would go up from 16 to 20 and Iceland's from 4 to 10.

There would thus be 30 monitors in the SLMM from September 1 onwards, he said.

The original strength of the SLMM was 57.

As per the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002, the SLMM was to consist of 57 monitors from the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

But the monitors from Sweden, Denmark and Finland had had to withdraw because the LTTE said that it would not cooperate with them because they were from the European Union (EU) which had listed it as a terrorist organization at the end of May.

The LTTE said that by September 1, monitors from these countries would have to be replaced by personnel from other Nordic countries.

Norway, the peace broker, had to find extra monitors from Norway and Iceland which were not in the EU.

SL thanks Norway, Iceland

The Sri Lankan government has welcomed the increase in the number of monitors from the non-EU countries.

"The government appreciates the efforts taken by the Royal Norwegian Government to add to the institutional structure of the SLMM which is a critical element in maintaining the Ceasefire," a statement issued by the government Peace Secretariat said.

First Published: Aug 19, 2006 00:00 IST