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SL Prez vows to capture Tiger HQ

world Updated: Sep 16, 2008 12:02 IST

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse has ruled out a ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers and said troops were on track to capture the rebels' political capital by the end of the year.

Rajapakse, who pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered truce in January, said government forces were advancing "very satisfactorily" and should take Kilinochchi, in the north of the island, by December.

"I am happy. The military has made a lot of gains," he told members of the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Sri Lanka late on Monday.

"We will hopefully take Kilinochchi by December. The rest (of the north) as soon as possible. I can't give an exact time frame," he said.

The president ruled out a future ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and vowed to "finish the war as soon as possible".

"There is no point talking to them. They have not asked for a ceasefire from us. They must first surrender with their weapons," he said.

In August, the rebels announced a 10-day ceasefire during a meeting of South Asian leaders in Colombo, which the government rejected.

"I don't think the LTTE was serious about it (ceasefire), they only talk of one (ceasefire) when the army is pushing to weaken them," said Rajapakse, who is also defence minister.

Colombo has poured a record 1.5 billion dollars into this year's war effort. Successive governments have been fighting Tamil rebels since 1972 and the long-running war has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives.