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Sri Lanka truce monitors to hold crisis talks

Norway will hold discussions with the SLMM members amid uncertainty over the role of foreign truce observers.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 11:04 IST

Sri Lankan peace broker Norway goes into crisis talks on Thursday to try to salvage the island's faltering ceasefire, after the assassination of a top army general underscored the threat of renewed war.

Norway will hold discussions in Oslo with the four other members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) amid uncertainty over the role of foreign truce observers on the South Asian island.

The meeting was called abruptly after the Tamil Tigers last week demanded that monitors from European Union nations Finland, Sweden and Denmark quit the mission, saying they could no longer be neutral following an EU decision to outlaw the rebels.

The move would force 37 out of the 57 monitors now in Sri Lanka to quit, leaving only those from Norway and Iceland and effectively hamstringing the SLMM.

"The LTTE, which has called for the withdrawal of ... monitors from EU countries which account for two-thirds of the SLMM, is clearly intent on crippling the work of the Monitoring Mission," the government said on Monday, referring to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Norway has said it would continue its efforts to mediate the conflict, with its special envoy to the island Jon Hanssen-Bauer saying that "Norway remains committed to Sri Lanka, in good times and bad times".

Asked whether Norway would consider suspending its mediation efforts, Hanssen-Bauer said from Oslo: "That's not something we are working on".

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