Sri Lanka dumps Norway as peace facilitator after embassy attack (Lead)

April 13th, 2009 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 13 (IANS) Sri Lanka Monday reacted angrily to the attack on its mission in Oslo by dumping Norway as a peace facilitator between the government and the Tamil Tigers.

The foreign ministry summoned Norwegian ambassador Tore Hattrem and lodged an official protest over the violent attack “by hooligans belonging to the international terror network of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)”.

The envoy was told that it was “deeply regretted that the Norwegian government failed in discharging its obligations under international law … despite repeated requests for adequate security cover”.

“In these circumstances, the government perceives that it is no longer feasible for Norway to act as facilitator in the engagement with Sri Lanka in the current context,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office said.

On Sunday, several Tamil demonstrators entered the Sri Lankan embassy during a protest in Oslo, damaged windows and broke furniture and escaped. No one has been arrested.

The demonstrations started in Oslo last week to pressure the Norwegian government to use its influence to end the violence in Sri Lanka.

Norway officially began to act as the facilitator between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE in 2000.

It brokered a ceasefire agreement (CFA) in February 2002, leading to six rounds of talks between Colombo and the LTTE.

Sri Lanka abrogated the CFA in January 2008, claiming the Tigers had misused it to strengthen its military muscle.

This coincided with escalating war between the military and the LTTE. But it is only now that Norway has been dumped as the facilitator.

Sri Lanka charged that Norway was “fully cognizant of the modus operandi of the LTTE and in constant contact with its international network as well as its leadership in the north of Sri Lanka” and it should have ensured adequate security to Colombo’s diplomatic premises and officials.

The foreign ministry said Sri Lanka was convinced the LTTE was behind the attack. It said the negligence of the Norwegian authorities “can be gauged from the simple fact that the hooligans managed to reach (the embassy) without any hindrance though it is located on the fifth floor”.

Urging Oslo to arrest the attackers and bring them to justice, Sri Lanka said it “expects the Norwegian authorities to act swiftly to provide adequate security” for the Sri Lankan mission and its staff.

The Norwegian embassy here has also condemned the attack and said that instructions had been issued to the police to strengthen security at the Sri Lankan embassy.

“The police are investigating the crime and will do utmost to bring the culprits to justice. The police express regrets that they did not have enough personnel when the demonstration (went) out of control,” the embassy said Monday.

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