COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, June 22 (UPI) -- A Norwegian peace envoy has begun talks with Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels in hopes of putting a controversial tsunami-aid distribution plan into action.
After meeting President Chandrika Kumaratunga in Colombo Tuesday, Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen traveled north to the rebel-held area to meet the head of the rebels' political wing, S.P. Thamilselvan, the BBC reported Wednesday.
The plan, which is backed by the president, involves the government and rebels jointly distributing to victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami $2 billion of aid pledged by the international donor community.
The deal was meant to ensure an equal distribution of aid across Sri Lanka and was initiated after some rebel-occupied areas complained of not receiving sufficient help.
Helgesen is hoping to help push through the joint mechanism between the rebels and the government that will disburse the aid.
Recently the nationalist People's Liberation Front party pulled out of the ruling coalition in protest of the aid distribution deal, saying the project only gives credibility to the Tamil cause. The party's withdrawal means Kumaratunga now leads a minority government, and in the past week she has been trying to build new alliances.