In what is seen as another Norwegian attempt to get both the government and the LTTE to return to the negotiating table, the peace facilitators yesterday met government chief peace negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva to discuss the future of the peace process.
However the government said there had not been any new moves to resume talks although the LTTE had a fortnight ago told the SLMM it was willing to return to talks if the ceasefire agreement was implemented and used as the basis for negotiations.
Following his meeting with Minister Siripala de Silva the Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar was due to meet LTTE chief negotiator S.P. Thamilselvan in Killinochchi on Monday. Embassy spokesman Eric Nuerenburg told the Daily Mirror this was a `routine` meeting between the Norwegians and the LTTE.
However LTTE sources said the future of peace talks was also expected to be discussed at the meeting, the first with the Norwegian Ambassador since last month`s LTTE air raid on the Katunayake air force base.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday S.P. Thamilselvan warned the LTTE would unleash its force if government forces try to take their northern strongholds. Mr. Thamilselvan`s comments came a week after Sri Lanka`s top defence official said the country`s collapsing ceasefire agreement had ``no meaning`` and that the military would soon attack the Tigers` heartland.
``In a worst case scenario, Colombo and its chauvinistic forces will realize the full capacity of the LTTE and the impact would be very serious,`` Mr. Tamilselvan said.
Mr. Thamilselvan said the Tigers were still willing to sit down again for peace talks. He urged the international community to step in to broker an end to the fighting.
``There is a place yet for the international community to act on this and for negotiations to restart. It is only because we have faith in peace talks that we haven`t adversely reacted to all what is being done by the government,`` Mr. Thamilselvan said.
Air raids, bus bombings, suicide attacks and jungle clashes have left an estimated 4,000 people dead since December 2005, even as each side has insisted it is only responding to the other`s aggression while respecting the cease-fire.
``Whatever we have been doing is in self-defense. We are only trying to make sure the occupying forces don`t enter rebel territory. There are daily air attacks. In the eastern province hundreds of thousands of people have been made refugees,`` he said, referring to the government`s offensive that has in recent months wrested much of eastern Sri Lanka from the rebels and displaced more than 100,000 people.
Mr. Tamilselvan warned of even more bloodshed if the army pushes into the north, the heartland of Sri Lanka`s ethnic Tamil minority and the center of the area the Tigers are fighting to carve out of the Indian Ocean nation.
When asked to elaborate, however, Mr. Thamilselvan said he was not prepared to give details of LTTE retaliation.
`But a stage will come when the LTTE cannot justify keeping quiet without taking counter action against the intruding government forces,` he said.