Sri Lankan rebels say ready for truce, peace talks

CEAT Kelani Holdings Managing Director Ravi Dadlani (right) and Lanka Ashok Leyland CEO Umesh Gautham exchange the OEM agreement

April 14, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels said Tuesday they were ready to negotiate a ceasefire with government forces and restart peace talks to halt decades of ethnic bloodshed. The government said it hoped that non-combatants would be able to leave a narrow strip of coastal jungle where they are allegedly held hostage by the Tigers. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), cornered in a narrow strip of jungle in the northeast and vastly outnumbered, said they wanted a long-term truce supervised by the international community.

“Such a ceasefire should also contain a base for political negotiations,” the rebels said in a statement.

But Sri Lanka’s government immediately rejected the call, saying the guerrillas had to first lay down their arms before any negotiations could be held.

“They can’t talk about a political settlement to buy time to regroup,” said government spokesman Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena.

The Tigers have suffered months of battlefield setbacks at the hands of government troops, and their 37-year armed campaign for an independent Tamil homeland appears close to an end.

The Sri Lankan government has ordered a temporary halt in fighting thi

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