Govt. responds positively, Norway will continue
The government yesterday responded to the five questions posed by Norway while the facilitators reiterated their commitment to Sri Lanka’s peace effort.
"As a government we have no problem with these five points as we have already supported these factors regarding the SLMM although it might just need a bit of fine tuning," defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.
Minister Rambukwella told a news conference the government’s displeasure over the post Geneva report issued by the SLMM last week terming it "biased" was because it placed government violations of the Geneva agreement on par with that of the LTTE."You cannot put the government on equal terms with the LTTE. At least they must say the LTTE has violated the agreement so many times while the government only this much. Not that we want this to be a scorecard but the report does not reflect the actual situation," he said.
The spokesman said the EU ban on the LTTE reflected the serious nature of the violence it committed since the Geneva talks in February.
In a letter sent to both the government and the LTTE following the failed Oslo talks Norway sought clarification on five points relating to the agreement and diplomatic immunity for the monitors.
LTTE political head S.P. Thamilselvan meanwhile told the media in Killinochchi yesterday the rebel leadership would discuss in detail Norway’s letter before making its response known
The government in its letter to Norway via the Foreign Ministry yesterday, lashed out at the facilitators for requesting the LTTE to guarantee diplomatic immunity for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to ensure its impartial operations.
Minister Rambukwella said the government of a sovereign state could guarantee diplomatic immunity to an individual or a group under the Vienna convention while the LTTE as a rebel outfit does not have that right.
"The LTTE does not posses diplomatic status in order to offer immunity to anyone. It is not a problem for Norway to ask us to give diplomatic immunity to the SLMM but the problem is when they ask the same facility from the LTTE," Minister Rambukwella said.
The Norwegian government said there would be no change in its role in the Sri Lankan conflict and down-played concerns following media reports in Oslo quoting reports by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.
Norwegian Foreign Ministry official Odd Maustdal told the Daily Mirror last night his government would continue to function as facilitators while adding that they were never mediators in the first place.
"I do not wish to speak on behalf of what your government minister has said but as far as Norway is concerned our role has not changed as we were never mediators in the Sri Lankan conflict.
Our commitment in Sri Lanka is exactly as it was before. Nothing has changed as far as Norway’s role in Sri Lanka is concerned. We will continue to facilitate in the conflict. Norway has never been a mediator so our foreign minister’s comment is nothing to be alarmed at," Mr. Maustdal said.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Stoere was quoted by the Norway Post newspaper on Tuesday there would be no new mediation or peace initiatives from Oslo although it would continue as a facilitator for negotiations. -Daily Mirror-By Easwaran Rutnam