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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Sri Lanka Army suffers further major debacles > Sri Lanka lacks will for peace says Minister Kadirgamar, 6 November 2001

Norwegian Peace Initiative

Sri Lanka lacks will for peace says Minister Kadirgamar

Reuters, 6 November 2001


"Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on Tuesday blamed a lack of political will for the collapse of a bid by Norway to end his country's 18-year ethnic war.

Norwegian diplomats have spent the past two years shuttling between the government and Tamil Tiger guerrillas fighting for a separate state in the country's north and east.

That brought the country to the threshold of negotiations earlier this year, but the effort was hamstrung by haggling over conditions for talks and then smothered by political turmoil that led to the collapse of the government.

"It's quite simply a lack of political will," Kadirgamar told state television in an interview.

"Blame will lie where it falls, but we, collectively, seem unable to lift this matter out of the arena of day to day politics," he said.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has laid the blame for the failure of the peace process squarely at the government's door, was "not interested in negotiations" until after the December 5 general elections, Kadirgamar said.

"The LTTE is watching to see who is in charge," he said.

Politics began to overshadow efforts to end the conflict, which has claimed an estimated 64,000 lives, in June when President Chandrika Kumaratunga suspended parliament for two months after defections robbed her party of a majority.

The assembly was reconvened in September after the government forged an alliance with a radical Marxist group opposed to Norway's role, but that coalition unravelled amid more defections forcing the dissolution of parliament.

Kadirgamar said the two sides had been on the verge of signing a pre-talks agreement in April when it was scuppered by a new rebel demand that a ban on their organisation be lifted before talks begin.

The rebels say the peace process was undone by the government's failure to match a four-month unilateral ceasefire they declared in December last year.

The government has since offered a previously unthinkable unilateral pre-talks truce, but LTTE dismissed the gesture saying it would not negotiate with an unstable regime."

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