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EU commends Minister Solheim

On the 31 January 2006 the European Union issued a declaration to welcome new talks on the agreement by the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The work of the Norwegian Minister of International Development, Erik Solheim, is said to be of high importance to make this process as peaceful as possible.

15/02/2006 :: The tensions between the two main groups, the Tamils and the Sinhalese, erupted into war in 1983 and the ensuing 20-year conflict has caused approximately 60 000 deaths as well as widespread displacement and destruction. The Norwegian government has been active in the peace talks since 2002 when the parties came together formally for the first time.

The Cease Fire Agreement was signed by the two parties in the conflict in February 2002. The peace talks have been suspended since April 2003 and have yet to be secured. During the recent months, however, the violations of the agreement have increased dramatically.

The Norwegian Minister visited Sri Lanka in the end of January and played an important role in getting the parties to meet for further talks. The meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Geneva in mid-February, is a small but important step in bringing the peace process onto a new track.

In the statement the EU commends Minister Erik Solheim for his longstanding and untiring effort for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The EU reiterates its full support for Norway’s role as facilitator in the peace process. Furthermore the EU expressed its firm hope that the talks will help to stabilize the situation in Sri Lanka and that it will lead to a peaceful solution of the conflict.

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