Representatives of the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have arrived in Oslo for direct talks on how to protect international observers monitoring a cease-fire in the country, the Norwegian government said in a press release on Wednesday.
The four-member Sri Lankan government delegation and the five- member LTTE delegation will hold talks on Thursday and Friday, discussing the security situation and role of the Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).
The talks are not aimed at finding a political solution to the armed conflict and do not substitute the Geneva talks meant to strengthen the implementation of the cease-fire agreement of 2002, the press release said.
"The situation in Sri Lanka is extremely serious. It is positive that the parties have come to Oslo to discuss the situation of the SLMM. As facilitators we will do our utmost to enable the parties to find practical solutions to ease the pressure on the SLMM," said Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim.
"The agenda for the meeting is limited to the SLMM, and we haven't got any further expectations. We will, of course, urge the parties to continue the peace process and find their way back to the platform for the talks that they agreed on in 2002-2003," Solheim added.
The conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE began in 1983, claiming more than 65,000 lives until the 2002 cease-fire brokered by Norway. Peace talks were held in Geneva in February this year, but a second round for April was canceled after the warring sides exchanged recriminations regarding rising violence.