The Sri Lankan government on Monday dismissed the Tamil Tigers' readiness to agree to a fresh ceasefire, insisting that the rebels needed to first give up their weapons.
Senior minister and ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leader Maithripala Sirisena made the observation in parliament while responding to questions from opposition MPs regarding the offer from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"The (government) will not go for a ceasefire or any form of talks with the LTTE until they lay down their weapons. It has been our government's stand, and there is no change in it," said Sirisena, who narrowly survived a Tiger suicide bomb attack last month.
The pro-LTTE TamilNet website Sunday quoted LTTE political wing head B. Nadesan as saying that the Tigers wanted a cessation of hostilities with Colombo.
"There is no hesitation on our side to reiterate our position that we have always wanted a ceasefire. It is the government of Sri Lanka that unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire," Nadesan said.
The latest announcement by the LTTE came during the month the Tigers commemorate their fallen fighters and a week-long event that ends with an annual speech by LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Sri Lankan troops backed by artillery and aerial support have advanced deep into rebel-held areas in the island's north amid fierce resistance in recent weeks.
Thousands of people have died and many more have been displaced due to escalating fighting between the army and the LTTE since late 2005.