Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Wednesday he was ready for talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and invited them to come to the negotiating table to end the ethnic conflict, an official source told IANS.
Speaking at a function to mark the third anniversary of the December 2004 tsunami in the badly hit Matara in the south, Rajapaksa said the on-going successful operations by the Sri Lankan armed forces would leave the Tigers with no option but to come for talks.
He said it was important for everyone to realise that only a military victory would pave the way for a political solution.
The Sri Lankan forces had not only driven the LTTE from the eastern districts of the island but have been mounting pressure on the guerrillas in the northern districts of Vavuniya and Mannar.
The president had earlier this month said there would be no peace until the LTTE was militarily defeated.
His brother and defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, had said late last month the Sri Lankan armed forces would eliminate the LTTE's leaders one by one.
The LTTE's political leader, SP Tamilselvan, was killed in an air raid on November 2. The government claimed Dec 19 that the Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was injured in an air raid on the Jayanthinagar bunkers in Kilinochchi on November 26.
For its part, the Sri Lankan navy had been destroying the sea going assets of the LTTE, including a number of large ships trying to smuggle weapons into Sri Lanka.