Norway to renew political contact with Sri Lanka

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OSLO: Norway’s foreign minister will visit Sri Lanka this week in a bid to re-establish political contact, his office said Tuesday, almost 10 years after Oslo failed in a bid to mediate in the island’s civil war.

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Borge Brende’s visit, which begins Thursday, will be the first by a Norwegian minister to Sri Lanka since 2006, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The aim of the visit to Colombo is to re-establish political contact with Sri Lanka,” Brende said, adding: “The recent political developments in the country in the past year have made this possible.”

In the early 2000s, Norway mediated between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but a 2002 ceasefire didn’t last.

Authoritarian president Mahinda Rajapakse, who was in power from 2005 to 2015, had questioned Norway’s neutrality and quashed the guerrilla in 2009 during a major military offensive that brought an end to 37 years of fighting.

Rajapakse last year failed to win a third term and handed over power to Maithripala Sirisena, who has vowed to work toward reconciliation and investigate crimes committed by the army during the military campaign run by his predecessor.

During his visit, Brende is scheduled to meet with Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the new opposition leader, Tamil lawmaker Rajavarothiam Sampanthan.

AFP

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