Sri Lanka government offers to talk peace, amidst fighting

June 1, 2007 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's president offered to open peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday even as security forces were locked in combat with the guerrillas. President Mahinda Rajapakse would enter negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) if they agreed to resume where they left off in October 2006, his spokesman Chandrapala Liyanage told AFP.

"I am ready to talk even today in the present circumstances," he quoted the president as saying.

"I am a total democrat and I believe in a peaceful negotiated settlement.

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The Tigers last week insisted that they would not resume Norwegian-brokered peace talks unless the Sri Lankan government halted its military action.

Security forces are keeping up air, ground and sea attacks against the Tigers in the island's northern and eastern regions. At least seven people have been killed in the embattled regions since Thursday, officials said.

Securoity was also reinforced against Tiger bomb attacks in the capital. Two blasts in the past week killed nine people and wounded 44. Both blasts were blamed on Tiger rebels.

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Hundreds of minority Tamils were Friday asked to leave the c

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