US renews call for peaceful dialogue in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

WASHINGTON, January 2, 2009 (AFP) – The US State Department on Friday urged the Sri Lankan and Tamil Tigers to start negotiating over the “legitimate” demands of the Tamils after Colombo announced a key win over the rebels. Sri Lanka said Friday its troops had finally captured Kilinochchi, the unofficial capital of the Tigers, and urged the rebels to lay down their arms and end their decades-old struggle for a separate homeland.

“The Sri Lankan government now seems to have made a gain through a military gain,” Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, told reporters when asked for comment on the development.

“We would also like to see that the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil opposition enter into a dicussion that will resolve the legitimate issues held by the Tamils,” Duguid added.

“But we repeat our call that the differences they have should be resolved peacefully,” he said.

“The Tamil Tigers have been one of the most notorious and brutal terrorist organizations over the past 20 years and a peaceful dialogue is what’s called for in order to resolve the differences and the legitimate concerns of the Tamils,” Duguid added.

The Sri Lankan conflict over the Tigers’ demand for a separate Tamil hom