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* Norway helped Sri Lanka rebels to establish links with Eritrea - report
Mon, Sep 28, 2009, 11:18 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Sept 28, Colombo: The Norwegian government helped Sri Lanka's rebel outfit LTTE to establish relations with Eritrea in a move to procure arms, ammunition, and equipment from China using Eritrean end-user certificates and other documents needed to legally buy weapons, a media report said Monday.

The Sri Lankan daily Island citing well informed sources reported that the ongoing investigations had revealed that Norway facilitated the meeting between Eritrean representatives and the LTTE.

"A tripartite understanding had been reached in Norway as far back as 2002-2003, when it facilitated negotiations purportedly aimed at ending Sri Lanka’s war," Island reported.

The Island report said that the LTTE had used Eritrean and also North Korean end-user-certificates to procure arms from China and smuggled them in several consignments.

Sri Lanka Navy destroyed eight fully loaded LTTE arms ships on the high seas between September 2006 and October 2007.

According to the sources the interrogation of LTTE' main arms dealer Kumaran Padmanathan alias 'KP' who was captured by Sri Lankan officials while hiding in a South Asian country had confirmed the Eritrean deal, sources said.

The Norwegians had even promised the LTTE to develop ocean resources including oil exploration and the fisheries industry as far back as the arrival of Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD) in Sri Lanka.

The report even accused the then Chief Norwegian facilitator Erik Solheim of being directly involved in forming the Eritrean-LTTE relationship.

A recent Indian media report said the LTTE were to get 10 aircraft through an Eritrea-based arms smuggling network when the government's military offensive reached its climax.

A United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation in 2006 revealed that the Government of Eritrea was providing direct military assistance to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels.

A Colombo based magazine in August said in a report that Sri Lankan army found 12 fighter planes belonging to the LTTE at an airport in Eritrea from the information given by KP.

Sri Lanka is seeking to establish diplomatic relations with Eritrea in an effort to counter the LTTE international network which is said to be still active despite the arrest of their self-appointed leader KP.

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