Sri Lanka rules out Tamil state

The Sri Lankan president has ruled out Tamil Tiger demands for a separate homeland, but said he would rein in armed groups - a central rebel demand before crucial talks.

    Rajapakse has been a moderate since coming to power

    Mahinda Rajapakse, interviewed on Monday, said: "There's only one country, we can share power. Not a separate state. That idea must be taken off ... it is completely out."

     

    Sri Lanka is soon to hold talks with the rebels in Switzerland in an attempt to avoid a return to war.

     

    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have threatened to resume an armed struggle that killed more than 64,000 people during 20 years until a truce was struck in 2002 unless the government gives them a homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east of the country.

     

    Rajapakse, who has trodden a moderate line since taking power in November, said he would meet a rebel demand to rein in armed groups. The Tigers accuse the military of helping a breakaway faction led by a renegade commander called Karuna to mount attacks, which the government denies.

     

    "If any group operates in our area, we will stop it. Any groups carrying arms will be brought under control, whether it is the so-called Karuna group or the LTTE," Rajapakse said.

     

    "There must be a [Tiger] guarantee too ... that civilians are not being harassed or not being killed."

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.