Sri Lanka Tigers warn against EU ban as violence escalates

May 21, 2006 (AFP) – The chief negotiator for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels warned Sunday that an imminent European ban on the group could scuttle future peace negotiations, as artillery duels continued in front-line regions. London-based Anton Balasingham said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam would retreat from talks with the government if they are listed by the 25-member European Union (EU) as a terrorist group.

Balasingham said the EU plan was to isolate the Tigers, and force them back to stalled ceasefire talks and negotiations on a formal peace process on hold since April 2003.

But he warned the strategy would backfire.

“I gravely doubt that the LTTE leadership will bow down to pressure and humiliation,” Balasingham said in remarks published in the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website.

“As such this move will be counter-productive. Faced with global isolation and humiliation, the LTTE may be compelled to stay away from further talks.”

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said an EU-wide ban on the Tigers should not halt the peace process.

“We are ready to talk with them even if the entire world bans them,” Rambukwella told AFP. “There is a message in this for the LTTE to give up terror and enter