Norwegian Ambassador Jon Westborg met President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s International Affairs Advisor Lakshman Kadirgamar last afternoon for consultation after the opposition PA made a blistering attack on the partiality of the Norwegians in the on-going peace process with the LTTE.
Ambassador Westborg who is due to fly to Kilinochchi tomorrow to meet the LTTE leadership was reminded by former Foreign Minister Kadirgamar that he had been informed twice before by the President of her dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the peace talks. He was told that the SLFP grassroots organizations had already passed a resolution condemning the government for its lack of consultation on the political basis of the negotiations, expressing concern over the situation of the Muslims in the north and east, and calling for disarmament of the LTTE before the implementation of any final agreement.
The meeting which took place at the Ambassador’s request came a day after the PA made a public declaration slamming the Norwegians saying “the destiny of Sri Lanka is too precious to be left to be determined by the UNF and the LTTE under the supervision of the Government of Norway”.
The statement said that the Norwegian role as facilitators had been “unjustifiably enlarged” and the Norway was no longer “visibly impartial”.
The PA’s formal critique followed a recent meeting between Ambassador Westborg and President Kumaratunga where the envoy was told about the PA’s displeasure in the manner the Norwegians were briefing the main opposition party about developments at the negotiating table in Thailand.
During the Westborg-Kadirgamar talks yesterday, the Ambassador undertook to consider initiating regular briefings of opposition MPs on the conduct of the peace talks.
The UNF Government’s co-negotiator at the peace talks, Milinda Moragoda, was also told by President Kumaratunga during talks on Friday afternoon that the PA was very unhappy with the partiality of the Norwegians towards the LTTE, as well as the manner in which the UNF was playing its cards so close to its chest.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe conferred with Mr. Moragoda and some other ministers last morning to anaylse the PA’s seven-page statement released on Friday on the future of the peace talks.
Following the high-level discussions at Temple Trees, it is learnt Mr. Moragoda had telephoned Mr. Kadirgamar to inform him that the UNF Government was prepared to consider discussing the issues raised in the PA statement.
Mr. Kadirgamar was requested to identify the contentious points and also to line up a meeting between President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on his return from Oslo, the Norwegian capital where he is scheduled to meet LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham later this month.
The PA argued that it had the support of three million voters and that its standing should not be undermined. It said that the talks were only going right for the LTTE and that current trends risked the creation of a separate state.
It also questioned the prudence of having the LTTE as an equal partner at the Oslo talks with representatives of the US and British governments, both of whom are having the LTTE on their terrorist groups list.
It has called for the LTTE to make a public declaration that it has renounced violence and that disarming be part of the peace process.
The PA has also called for wider national consultation on the resolution of the conflict.