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Lanka rejects 'no-fire' period proposed by donor countries

February 05, 2009 17:30 IST

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Sri Lanka [Images], which is poised to capture the remaining Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam strongholds, has rejected the plea of the United States-led donor countries for a temporary 'no-fire period' in the island's north, saying this would be detrimental in efforts to wipe out terrorism from its soil.

"The co-chairs seem to have conveniently forgotten that a group of local United Nations employees and their dependents, too had been held by the LTTE [Images]," Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.

The LTTE had thwarted several attempts to evacuate the hostages; he was quoted as saying by the Island newspaper. "The co-chairs move was nothing but a transparent attempt to save the Wanni Tigers,'" he said.

The Tokyo co-chairs (Norway, Japan [Images], US and the European Union) had on Tuesday asked both the Lankan government and the LTTE to announce a temporary 'no-fire' period to allow civilians to leave the war zone.

The defence secretary also rejected the co-chairs suggestion that the LTTE should lay down their arms, negotiate terms of surrender and take part in a political dialogue. "Nothing could be as ridiculous as this", the newspaper quoted Rajapaksa, the brother of Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as saying.

The defence secretary said nothing short of unconditional surrender of arms and LTTE cadres could bring an end to the offensive on the Wanni front. For the LTTE, now holed up in approximately 200 square kilometre area, the civilian human shield seemed to be its last defence, Rajapaksa said.

He was speaking after the armed forces concluded an impressive display of their might at Galle Face to mark the 61st anniversary of Sri Lanka's Independence in Colombo on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka displayed her Russian, Chinese and Israeli jets, Chinese artillery, and Czechoslovakian multi-barrel rocket launchers during the celebrations.

"The international community shouldn't hold Sri Lanka responsible for their failure to force the LTTE to allow civilians freedom of movement," the newspaper quoted Rajapaksa.

"The international community shouldn't expect the Sri Lankan government to allow the LTTE's participation as a political party in a fresh negotiating process after the armed forces crushed its wherewithal to wage war," he told the newspaper.

The only thing the co-chairs got in their statement right was their assertion that there remained probably a short period of time before the LTTE lost control of all areas in the northern theatre, the defence secretary added.




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