’Temporary truce possible if LTTE allows civilians to leave’ | india | Hindustan Times
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’Temporary truce possible if LTTE allows civilians to leave’

india Updated: Mar 29, 2009 14:49 IST

Amid calls from the United Nations for a truce in the island’s embattled north, Sri Lanka has said it may agree to halt temporarily the offensive against the LTTE if the rebels allow the Tamil civilians “held forcibly” by them to move to the government-controlled region.“If the LTTE is ready to let these people (Tamil civilians) go, at least part of them go,” the government may agree to a modality to facilitate a temporary truce, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, H M G S Palihakkara, said.

“You can call it a pause or as I said government had earlier given a 48-hour period,” he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, referring to the January 30 move of President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he announced a two-day ceasefire in order to give a safe passage to the civilians in Wanni.

“The issue is LTTE is not willing to let them (civilians) go. They are trying to hold this human shield,” Palihakkara said.UN humanitarian chief John Holmes has estimated that over one lakh civilians were still trapped in the Wanni area and urged both Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE to call a brief ceasefire to enable the people to leave.