Sri Lanka rejects LTTE's "goodwill" ceasefire

[TamilNet, Saturday, 23 December 2000, 20:13 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government Saturday rejected the Liberation Tigers offer Thursday of a month-long "goodwill" cease-fire, asserting that military operations by the armed forces will continue. A statement issued by the Presidential Secretariat also said that "further gestures of goodwill are unnecessary [before negotiations]," rejecting the LTTE's call to de- escalate the conflict for negotiations to take place in conditions of normalcy.

The government said that a ceasefire need not precede negotiations. "The government would consider a ceasefire, consequent steps that would arrive when the negotiations reach to the mutual satisfaction of both sides," the statement said.

"The Government has indicated its wish to engage in talks with the LTTE forthwith on substantial issues involved," the statement also said. However, the LTTE have said earlier that it was not possible to discuss the resolution of the root causes of the protracted conflict whilst the day to day problems of people in the Tamil areas - which are subject to a government economic embargo and conditions of war - remain.

The Presidential statement also dismissed the possibility of de-escalation. "the government believes that further gestures of goodwill are unnecessary [for talks]," it said.

The LTTE, in an official statement issued Thursday from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka, announced the declaration of a month long unilateral cease-fire "as a gesture of goodwill during the festive season to facilitate and promote initiatives towards a peace process."

Britain, playing a complimentary role to the Norwegian peace effort, said Friday the LTTE's offer was "a first step" in de-escalating the conflict and urged the Sri Lankan government to follow suit.

"For the sake of all Sri Lankans, let us hope that this will be the first step in the process towards creating the right environment for peace negotiations without pre-conditions," Britain's Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said in a statement.

However, the government of Sri Lanka said Saturday it was calling on to the LTTE "to engage honestly in this opportunity for peace" and said "Until then the military operation will continue."


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