'Lanka open to political settlement'
Sri Lanka on Friday said it was still open to a "negotiated political settlement" with the Tamil Tigers to the over two-decade-old ethnic conflict despite scrapping a ceasefire agreement, which it claimed, had been violated "thousands of times" by the rebels.
"I wish to underline that the termination of the CFA (Ceasefire Agreement) does not in anyway hamper the process of moving towards a negotiated political settlement," Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogallagama told reporters.
"In fact it gives us a broader space to pursue this goal in a manner that involves all sections of the Sri Lankan polity, which remained sidelined due to the CFA," he said after talks with heads of various missions on the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement.
He said President Mahinda Rajapakse had made it clear that the doors remain open for the LTTE to join this process.
"At the Thimpu Talks of 1985, the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987, the 1990 talks between late President Premadasa and the LTTE, as well as talks between former President Chandrika Kumaratunga's administration and the LTTE in 1994 were not done within the presence of a CFA," he said.
The Minister charged the LTTE with violating the ceasefire "thousands" of times and being involved in indiscriminate targeting of civilians including women and children in recent weeks.