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New Norwegian envoy for SL peace talks

Hanssen-Bauer will be responsible for contact with the Lankan Govt and the LTTE to seek an end to their civil war.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 20:52 IST

Middle East expert Jon Hanssen-Bauer has been appointed Norway's new special envoy for the Sri Lankan peace process, the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

Hanssen-Bauer, 53, will be responsible for day-to-day contact with the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE rebels in seeking an end to their 22-year civil war.

Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim, who secretly began the peace effort that led to a 2002 cease-fire, will retain overall responsibility for the effort, the ministry said in a statement.

"Hanssen-Bauer's academic and practical experience mean he is highly qualified. He has engaged in peace and reconciliation work in many countries," said Solheim.

The announcement came a day after Solheim said he needed to reduce his daily role in the peace process because of the workload from the government post he accepted in October.

Hanssen-Bauer, who has a master's degree in social anthropology from the University of Oslo, has frequently advised the foreign ministry during its Middle East peace efforts.

Most recently, he was director of the Norwegian labour movement's FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies, which played a key role on opening secret talks that led to the now-tattered 1993 Oslo Agreement peace accord between Israel and Palestinians.

He joined the Foreign Ministry in August as an adviser on the Nordic country's peace efforts.

First Published: Mar 17, 2006 20:46 IST