Norwegian FM responds to SL President's letter

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 October 2003, 15:45 GMT]
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry in a press release Wednesday said that the Foreign Minister, Mr. Jan Petersen, has responded to the letter from Sri Lanka’s President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, in which she referred to incidents on October 16, 2003, involving the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The response described the steps the Government of Norway (GoN) would take in response to her complaints and said that the SLMM would continue its monitoring without change while the GoN looks into the complaints of Ms. Kumaratunga.

The Sunday Times of Sri Lanka reported on October 26 that Ms. Kumaratunga had requested the Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, to remove with immediate effect the Head of the SLMM, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Tryggve Tellefsen.

The newspaper said that Ms. Kumaratunga had also sent written instructions on the same day to Commanders of the Army (Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle), the Navy (Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri) and the Air Force (Air Marshal Donald Perera) on Friday, that they need not take instructions or advice from Maj. Gen. Tellefsen.

Mr. Petersen said in his response to Ms. Kumaratunga's letter that he would await the reports of the inquiry the Government of Sri Lanka had launched into the October 16 incident and carefully study it and also undertake a separate examination of the issues concerning the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

The full text of the press release follows:

"The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Jan Petersen, today replied to a letter of 23 October 2003 from the President of Sri Lanka, Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga, regarding a reported incident on 16 October 2003 involving the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

"In his letter Jan Petersen informed the President of Sri Lanka of the steps that Norway will take in this matter and referred to the inquiry the Sri Lankan Government has launched into the reported incident.

"Jan Petersen said he will study carefully the report of the Government of Sri Lanka and also undertake a separate examination of the issues regarding the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

"Further, Jan Petersen stated that in this process he will consult closely with the governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, which participate in the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, in order to jointly assess the situation and the implications for the presence of the international monitors in Sri Lanka.

"Jan Petersen has asked the head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Major General (ret.) Tryggve Tellefsen, to be available for these discussions, including meetings with the Nordic governments.

"The Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam will both be consulted as parties to the ceasefire agreement, under which the establishment of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission was agreed.

"Jan Petersen confirmed that the Government of Norway remains committed to facilitating the peace process in Sri Lanka at the request of both parties.‚ - adding that, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission will continue to monitor the ceasefire agreement, upon the parties' request, while we look into the incident."


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