President tries to stem panic

[TamilNet, Friday, 17 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
"I will even negotiate with the Devil to end the conflict" said the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaranatunge Bandaranaike addressing a special press conference convened by her this morning at the Temple Trees, her official residence.

"We will stop the military campaign in the northeast if the Liberation Tigers come forward to discuss the devolution package" she told the press.

The move was apparently aimed at managing the crisis created by the massive bomb blast on Wednesday which left Sri Lanka's financial hub in ruins.

Winning back foreign investor confidence and diffusing the panic atmosphere in Sri Lanka's tourist and financial circles appeared to be the main aim of the two hour long press conference.

However, the message conveyed by her today is not categorical say political observers here.

Although she reiterated what she told the conference for her party people on Wednesday, soon after the blast - that the government should negotiate, - she confused the signal in the course of the conference by saying that the Tamil people should stand by the government and reject the LTTE.

 

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