LTTE says ready for ceasefire, Govt rejects offer

A beleaguered LTTE appealed for a ceasefire but the Govt was quick to reject the ceasefire call, saying that the rebels would have to lay down arms before the first moves towards a cessation of hostilities could begin, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.
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Updated on Feb 24, 2009 12:21 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySutirtho Patranobis, Colombo

A beleaguered Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam appealed for a ceasefire on Monday but adamantly added that the truce cannot be preceded by their surrendering arms.

The government was quick to reject the ceasefire call, saying that the rebels would have to lay down arms before the first moves towards a cessation of hostilities could begin.

Earlier, the LTTE released a statement, saying there was an urgent need to initiate a political solution in the decades-long ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamil communities.

The LTTE’s appeal came in a statement released by its political head B. Nadesan addressed to US President Barack Obama, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Prime Ministers Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Taro Aso of Japan, the pro-rebel website, TamilNet reported.

The letter said that the Tamils in Lanka were “facing the worst genocide of the 21st century,’’, adding that “in this situation, the LTTE is ready to accept the calls for a ceasefire issued by the international community with the good intention of ending the human suffering.’’

Nadesan added: “the LTTE desires that this effort for a ceasefire to grow further into peace talks to seek a political solution to the ethnic conflict.’’

The rebels’ political chief, however, added: “calls for the LTTE to lay down its arms and surrender are not helpful for resolving the conflict. It is the political reality that the arms of the LTTE are the protective shield of the Tamil people and their tool for political liberation.’’

Nadesan added that “when a permanent political solution is reached for the Tamil people, with the support and the guarantee of the international community, the situation will arise where there will be no need for the arms of the LTTE.’’

Lay down arms, EU urges Tamil Tigers

Meanwhile, The European Union (EU) called for an immediate ceasefire to facilitate unrestricted access allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered and civilians to leave the conflict area.

The EU urged the country’s LTTE rebels to lay down its arms and renounce terrorism and violence “once and for all.”

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