A war of words was launched after it emerged Sri Lanka's defence minister had visited Israel . . . a key supplier of weapons to the island.

The visit is suspected by some as a plan to prepare the country's war machine in the event of peace talks failing.

The warning was made on the Tamil's official website which quoted one of its prominent political wing leaders as saying they wanted peace but at the same time were prepared for war.

“We are ready to face a war if it is imposed on us with the change of a new government,” SP Thamilselvan said.

“But we are firm in finding a political solution to the conflict through peaceful means."

His remarks came amid moves by the island-country’s president Chandrika Kumaratugna to topple the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by forging a political coalition of her own.

Bitter political rivals, Kumaratunga is also critical of Wickremesinghe’s handling of the Norwegian-backed peace process.

Meanwhile, a pro-rebel Tamil legislator has strongly criticised the Sri Lankan Defence Minister Tilak Marapana’s visit to Israel, a key supplier of weapons to the island.

“At this juncture, the visit of the defence minister and the commander of the Sri Lanka navy to one of its biggest arms suppliers Israel, has created suspicion in the minds of the Tamil people that the government is preparing for another war while talking peace,”  the legislator, Adaikalanathan said.

“We consider the steps taken by the government ministers to strengthen the Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Navy as a provocative act. We condemn such types of actions by the government while talking of peace,” he added.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government have been observing a truce since last February , but peace talks between the two have been suspended since April.

Four previous peace attempts ended in failure and led to more
bloodshed in a country where more than 60,000 people have been killed in three decades of ethnic violence.