Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka rejects latest Tiger truce offer

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COLOMBO, Nov. 10 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's government rejected the latest Tamil Tiger truce offer out of hand on Monday, again demanding the separatist rebels surrender or be destroyed.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) over the weekend reiterated what they say is a longstanding desire for a truce in the 25-year-old war, one of Asia's longest insurgencies. The government has previously called the offer disingenuous.

In parliament, Agriculture Minister Maithripala Sirisena repeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa's stance, which has been in place since the government scrapped a 2002 ceasefire in January after accusing the LTTE of using it to rearm.

"The government will not go for a ceasefire with the LTTE. We will not have any form of discussion with the LTTE. We have already told them to lay down arms and there is no change in our stand," Sirisena told the legislature.

Sirisena is the latest government official targeted by a Tiger suicide bomber. He escaped harm in a suicide blast that hit his convoy on Oct. 9 in Colombo, which killed one person and injured five including his deputy.

Diplomats say the government has little incentive to negotiate right now, since their military offensive appears to have put the rebels on their heels as it nears the LTTE's headquarters town of Kilinochchi.

And the Tigers have less diplomatic traction in the post-Sept. 11 world since they are on U.S., E.U. and Indian terrorism lists, a point Sri Lanka's government has increasingly pressed in its foreign relations.

(Writing by Bryson Hull; Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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