Colombo: Diplomat Erik Solheim has rejected Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa's allegation that Norway and he in particular were "funding" the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Solheim, who was Norway's key facilitator in the Colombo-Tamil rebels peace process and is a former minister of international development, has said that Norway "financed neither the LTTE in general nor its military operations" in particular. He added that Rajapaksa himself was fully aware of Norway's entire engagement with the Tamil rebels, and had even requested him to communicate with the Tigers.
In a statement, Solheim has said that Norway made 'economic resources available to the LTTE peace secretariat in order to assist them in engaging more fully with the ongoing peace process'.This included a radio transmitter but this was done with the 'full knowledge of the Government of Sri Lanka under different leaders, including during the period when Mahinda Rajapaksa was prime minister'. Solheim added that transparency with respect to Colombo was "total" as with all of Norway's peace efforts in SL.
Solheim added he had met Rajapaksa 'dozens of times' before he became president and kept him 'fully informed of all elements of the peace process'. Rajapaksa had also been - as a minister and then PM--"fully supportive of our peace aims" and even asked Norway to continue its efforts. After the 2005 presidential election, he did so 'publicly' and invited "me personally to visit Sri Lanka", said Solheim. Rajapaksa, the Norwegian leader claimed, had also made a number of political requests that he asked him to convey on his behalf to LTTE leader V Prabhakaran. 'All these messages were duly communicated on to the LTTE leadership, and the killings ceased for a period.'
Rajapaksa had expressed his gratitude for this both to Norway and to myself personally. "When we last met in 2010, President Rajapaksa as a recognition of Norway´s peace efforts invited me to come back to Sri Lanka, visit the country and experience the peace." Solheim said further details on all these issues will be made public in spring 2015 in a book detailing the Norwegian peace engagement in Sri Lanka.
In the context of the inquiry initiated by the UN Human Rights Council, Solheim reiterated that he considered it the duty of all with relevant information to provide the best possible knowledge, in full honesty, "regarding war crimes allegedly committed by both the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka.” Rajapaksa had expressed his anger that Solheim was planning to give evidence against Sri Lanka in Geneva.