Tamil Tigers 'open' to peace talks

Separatists say they are willing to negotiate, as military push continues in north.

    Tamil Tiger fighters have carried out numerous attacks across Sri Lanka [File: AFP]

    The military push deep into the separatists' heartland in recent months has forced the Tamil Tigers to retreat from vast areas they once controlled, and the government has said it expects to finish off the group in the coming months.

    However, Balasingham Nadesan said the group did not believe it was facing imminent defeat.

    "We have made several strategic withdrawals in order to save the lives of our people and maintain the strength of our forces. When the time and place is conducive, we will regain the land we have lost," he said.

    Initial ceasefire

    The two sides agreed to a truce in 2002 and held internationally brokered peace talks aimed at resolving the bloody conflict.

    The talks stalled, however, and violence erupted again three years ago. The government officially pulled out of the ceasefire in January.

    The government has said it would only consider new peace negotiations if the separatists agreed to disarm.

    "For three decades we were trying to convince [Tigers leader Velupillai] Prabhakaran and his terror group to come to some sort of reasonable arrangement, but they failed,"  Keheliya Rambukwella, a cabinet minister, said.

    If the group refuses to lay down its weapons, "we will not move an inch from our position." 

    More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the two sides.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.