Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Monday that his government would "seriously consider" cessation of hostilities if the LTTE's chief Velupillai Prabhakaran came up with "an explicit commitment to a comprehensive and verifiable" proposal for a ceasefire.
The President told the representatives of the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo donors' conference who are the accredited "international community' in the Sri Lankan peace process, that Prabhakaran would also have to guarantee that the Sampur area (across the Koddiyar Bay in Trincomalee district) would not be a threat to the Trincomalee harbour and naval base.
" The Government will seriously consider any initiative incorporating a clear and explicit commitment to a comprehensive and verifiable cessation of hostilities to be made by the LTTE leader Prabhakaran."
"Such a cessation of hostilities should include explicit modalities of ensuring that Sampur area does not pose a military threat to the Trincomalee harbour and its environs emanating from the LTTE military presence in that area in violation of the ceasefire agreement," a release from the Presidential Secretariat said.
Solvberg is new chief of truce monitors
Maj Gen Lars Johan Solvberg has been appointed Acting Head of the Sri Lanka Truce Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to replace Maj Gen Ulf Henricsson who has to leave by September 1, because the Tamil Tiger rebels will not accept truce monitors from the European Union (EU) countries.
Announcing Solvberg's appointment peace broker Norway said that his "wide experience and impressive military background" would be important assets.
Chief peace broker and Norway's Minister for International Development Erik Solheim said that Solvberg's appointment was of "great importance in the difficult situation" Sri Lanka was facing.
SLMM withdraws from war zone
The SLMM in the meanwhile announced that it was temporarily withdrawing from the troubled North-East of Sri Lanka and re-locating in the capital city of Colombo in view of the lack of security for its personnel in the North East.
The current SLMM chief Ulf Henricsson has been complaining that neither the Sri Lankan government nor the LTTE is ensuring the security of the monitors.
With the withdrawal of 39 monitors from Denmark, Sweden and Finland, (because they were from EU countries), Norway and Iceland have agreed to increase their personnel in the mission.
When this happens, the SLMM will have 30 monitors, but still 27 short of the original strength.