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Norwegian envoy Eric Solheim
It will not be possible to talk in the midst of heavy fighting
 real 28k

Monday, 30 April, 2001, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Sri Lanka fighting 'sets back peace'
Sri Lankan troops
Troops have failed to hold on to captured territory
The Norwegian peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Eric Solheim, has said that the latest upsurge in fighting between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels has set back the peace process.


We will stay in touch with the LTTE and the government, and meet both sides in the very near future.

Eric Solheim

Mr Solheim, who arrived in Colombo on Monday, told the BBC he would be meeting both sides to try to revitalise peace talks.

Norwegian diplomats said he would meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga, but had no immediate plans to travel to rebel-held areas.

More than 400 troops and rebel fighters have been killed in the fighting over the past few days in the north of the country.

Army pulls back

On Monday, the Sri Lankan military said fighting had died down.

The army had earlier conceded that it had been forced to withdraw from territory it had captured after the start of the operation.

It says that in spite of being forced to retreat, it did succeed in destroying rebel positions that posed a threat to army defences.

The Tigers have already claimed victory in the latest fighting.

Truce ends

The upsurge in fighting followed the announcement recently by the Tamil Tigers that they were abandoning their unilateral cease-fire, announced on Christmas Eve last year.

The Tigers blamed an increase in Sri Lankan army attacks for their decision - but said they would remain committed to Norwegian efforts to bring about talks.

The Sri Lankan Government described the Tiger ceasefire as a stunt, saying the rebels were not serious about peace.

The Tamil Tigers have been waging their war for self-determination in the north and east of the island since 1983.

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See also:

27 Apr 01 | South Asia
Casualties mount in Sri Lanka
23 Apr 01 | South Asia
Tamil Tigers to end truce
16 Apr 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka gets fresh weapons
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