Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sri Lanka rejects dialogue appeal

(BBC) The Sri Lankan government has rejected a call by international donors to the Tamil Tiger rebels to negotiate terms of surrender with the government.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told the BBC that the government would only accept an "unconditional surrender" by the rebels.

The donors - the US, Japan, Norway and the European Union - have also called on the Tigers to lay down their arms.

The government has ruled out a ceasefire and vowed to crush them.

Mr Rajapaksa told the BBC: "There is no question of negotiations on surrender. The rebels should surrender unconditionally. They should lay down their arms first."

He ruled out any amnesty for top rebel leaders, but said that "lower level cadres" would be "given amnesty, retrained, given vocational training and integrated into mainstream society".

Mr Rajapakse also rejected a ceasefire call by the US, UK and Canada, saying that the rebels had used ceasefire time "only to regroup and attack security forces".

"When the government declared a 48-hour ceasefire period last week, the rebels used the period to launch suicide attacks near the frontlines using three trucks loaded with explosives," he said.

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