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SLMM aware of decision, Norway regrets

Scandinavian truce monitors operating in Sri Lanka yesterday said they were aware of the Sri Lankan Government's decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement.

Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), Spokesperson Pia Hanffon said:" The SLMM is aware about the situation. We have been formally informed about it."

Hanffon said the notification regarding the Sri Lankan Government's decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE, had to reach the Royal Norwegian Government.

"We will continue to monitor the Ceasefire until such notification has been made," she said.

Under Clause Four of Article Four of the Ceasefire Agreement which deals with the Agreement's entry into force, amendments and termination, the Agreement shall remain in force until notice of termination is given by either party to the Royal Norwegian Government. Such notice shall be given 14 days in advance of the effective date of termination.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Environment International Development Minister Erik Solheim in a press communique expressed regret over the Sri Lankan Government's decision to terminate the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement.

"I regret that the Government is taking this serious step," Solheim said.

He pointed out that he was deeply concerned that the violence and hostilities between the parties could escalate further as a result of this.

The SLMM has monitored the Ceasefire Agreement for nearly four years since it came into effect on February 22, 2002 with then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signing the Agreement with LTTE Leader Prabhakaran.

The SLMM had to carry out their monitoring activities under trying conditions having to deal with many ceasefire violations with the LTTE resorting to terrorist activities at large scale.

The bomb blast by the LTTE at a shopping complex in Nugegoda killing 20 persons including women and children and Wednesday's claymore mine attack at Slave Island which killed two security personnel and two civilians are just two incidents among them.

The Government's decision to withdraw from the Ceasfire is said to have been based on its intention to resolve the country's ethnic issue with a fresh approach, Government sources said.

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