In the next round of talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sri Lankan government would seek changes in the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) to take into account the changes in the ground conditions in Sri Lanka, Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told newsmen in Colombo on Tuesday.
He was responding to the LTTE's demand that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces should go back to the positions they held when the CFA was signed on February 22, 2002.
The LTTE's demand, voiced by its political spokesman SP Tamilselvan last week, stemmed from the fact that it had lost much territory in the series of military operations which took place in the last two months.
But the Sri Lankan government is not going to oblige the LTTE, as its spokesman Rambukwella clearly indicated.
"Conditions have changed since the agreement was signed. The CFA would have to reflect these changes. We want to strengthen the CFA and make it viable," he said.
One change the Sri Lankan government wanted was a provision for governmental military retaliation if the LTTE broke the CFA, he added.
The Sri Lankan government has, in fact, been seeking amendments to the CFA since 2004-5, as the pact signed in 2002 had many clauses, which had proved to be detrimental to its interests and its sovereign status.
Rambukwella said that for any meaningful discussions with the LTTE, its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, should give a personal assurance that he would abide by the CFA.
But this need not be in writing, he added.
The guarantee should be given not just to the Sri Lankan government, but to Norway, the facilitator, and the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Aid Sri Lanka conference, who act as the International Community in the Sri Lankan peace process, he said.
"There should be some guarantees, some parameters for the talks," Rambukwella stressed.
Asked if time was not running out because the Co-Chairs had set October end for a review of the peace process, the government spokesman said that it was for the Norwegian facilitators to get the assurances from the LTTE expeditiously.