Sri Lanka's president has called for direct peace talks with the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels, saying he has appointed a group of experts to outline a possible solution to the decades-old ethnic conflict.
"We will give them an outline, we can get the (Tamil Tigers) to sit and draft what they want. They can discuss," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.
Rajapaksa reiterated the offer to rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in an interview with the New Delhi Television, an Indian news channel, following recent escalating violence that has put the country on the edge of civil war.
The government and the Tamil rebels held a first round of peace talks in Geneva in February, but a second round slated for April was canceled after the embattled sides blamed each other for rising violence.
"Whether he is Prabhakaran or Mahinda Rajapakse, both of us are from Sri Lanka, so we can sit and discuss this. So this is what I am asking them -- to come and discuss what they want. They can amend," he said in the interview broadcast on Tuesday.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, have been fighting for a separate homeland for the minority Tamils since 1983, accusing the majority Sinhalese-dominated state of discrimination.
Earlier this month, scheduled talks on the deteriorating security of the Nordic countries' monitoring mission collapsed in Norway when the rebels refused to meet a Sri Lankan government delegation, dealing a blow to the peace process.