2ND LEAD

Norway ‘optimistic on joint mechanism’

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 09 March 2005, 15:38 GMT]
Norwegian Peace Envoy, Mr. Erik Solheim, told the Liberation Tigers’ Political Strategist and Chief Negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, whom he met Wednesday that Oslo was optimistic that a joint mechanism for aid distribution could be agreed “soon” between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. Mr. Solheim also conveyed Colombo’s concerns over the LTTE’s airstrip in Vanni to Mr. Balasingham.

Mr. Solheim, accompanied by Ms. Solfried Lien, an Executive Office at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, met with Mr. Balasingham at the latter’s London residence Wednesday for two hours of discussions on the political situation in Sri Lanka and the outlook for Oslo’s long-running peace effort in Sri Lanka, the LTTE Chief Negotiator told TamilNet.

“Mr. Solheim was optimistic a joint mechanism for aid distribution could be established soon,” Mr. Balasingham said.

Last week Mr. Solheim discussed the matter with Sri Lankan government leaders in Colombo and visited tsunami-struck areas to examine ongoing relief efforts.

Mr. Solheim had also registered the Sri Lankan government’s concern over the LTTE’s airstrip in Vanni, Mr. Balasingham told TamilNet.

Mr. Balasingham said he had assured Mr. Solheim that government’s concern was unfounded and pointed out that the airstrip had been in existence even before the February 2002 ceasefire.

Sri Lankan press reports have, in extensive reporting in recent weeks, suggested the LTTE had newly acquired an air capability.

 

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