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Sri Lankan President rules out war

Rajapaksa also rejected LTTE's demand for holding the first round of talks in Oslo, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 13:28 IST

The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ruled out a return to war even as he categorically rejected the LTTE's demand that the first round of talks be held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

Speaking to a group of Sri Lankan journalists in Colombo on Friday, Rajapaksa said that he would go all out to prevent the country from sliding back to war despite the LTTE's provocations.

He promised to protect Security Forces personnel and civilians from LTTE attacks "but without returning to war," The Island daily quoted him as saying.

On the controversy over the venue for the first round of talks, Rajapaksa said it would not have arisen if the LTTE had desisted from launching offensive attacks on the security forces with a view to intimidating a sovereign state into submission.

The President said that it was unfortunate that the LTTE had resumed attacks within weeks of his election.

He did not want to do anything that might give the slightest indication to the LTTE that the government could be frightened into doing its bidding, he asserted.

The President said he did not mind talks being held even in Oslo but not before the first round was held elsewhere.

The LTTE must be made to realise that violence would not take it anywhere.

He felt that the suggestion of the co-chairs of the Tokyo development conference that Japan be the alternative venue, was a "sensible" one, which the LTTE should accept.

LTTE's view

The LTTE, however, is firmly of the view that the first round of talks should begin only in Oslo, the capital of the peace broker country Norway.

The LTTE thinks that the government is opposed to Oslo because of a plan to isolate it from the West, especially Europe, and have it banned by the European Union.

Return to normalcy

The LTTE is also of the view that talks will be meaningless under the present conditions when there is no normalcy in the North East.

The organisation has a list of grievances, which it says must be addressed immediately.

It says that the killings by the security forces and their Tamil paramilitaries must stop; the harassment of, and restrictions on, civilians in the North East must end; the restrictions relating to fishing must go; and government forces must vacate public and private properties.

It has been the LTTE's contention that normalcy will be restored if the government implements the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of February 2002 in letter and spirit. There is no need to revise or alter the CFA, it adds.

But the government has a diametrically opposite view on these matters. For the state, the LTTE is the quintessential villain of the piece and that it must reform forthwith.

Given the wide divergence of views between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, little is expected from the meeting of the Norwegian Peace Broker Erik Solheim and the LTTE chief V Prabhakaran in Kiliniochchi on January 25.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 13:28 IST