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LTTE offers ceasefire, refuses to lay down arms
T V Sriram in Colombo | February 23, 2009 15:30 IST
The Tamil Tigers said on Monday that they were ready for a ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government, but refused to lay down their arms. With the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam cornered in a fast shrinking small landmass in the north easter coast of the country, the rebels appeal for a truce came in a letter to the United Nations and other foreign powers.
LTTE [Images] political chief B Nadesan, in a letter to the United Nations, said that international calls for the rebels to lay down their arms could not resolve the armed conflict as "weapons were the only protective shield of the Tamil people."
"Arms are also our tool for political liberation," Nadesan told the United Nations in the letter, copies of which were also sent to the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Japan [Images] and one time peace-broker on the island Norway.
"We are ready to discuss cooperate and work together in all their efforts to bring an immediate ceasefire and work towards a political settlement," he said. But the Sri Lankan government immediately rejected the cease fire offer by the Tigers.
An official spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, told media-persons it would accept nothing short of a unconditional ceasefire. "Sri Lankan government has no intention to enter into the ceasefire with LTTE without their laying down arms," he said.
The Tigers who are fighting for separate Tamil homeland are now boxed in a small strip of coastal jungles near Mullaitivu. In six months of heavy fighting, the Tigers have nearly lost all of the north of Sri Lanka [Images] they held including one time political capital of Kilinochichi and the main military base at Mullaitivu.
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