The Lanka Academic

 
OCTOBER 3, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 7, NO. 180

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Tamil Tigers agree to unconditional talks with Sri Lankan government
Associated Press, Tue October 3, 2006 08:24 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's Tamil Tiger rebels on Tuesday agreed to unconditional talks with the government, but warned they will pull out of a 2002 cease-fire if the government persists with its military campaign, a spokesman said. The Norway-brokered cease-fire temporarily ended Sri Lanka - 's 19-year civil war between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who want to carve out a separate homeland for the country's ethnic Tamils. About 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the truce.

Renewed fighting since late July, however, has left at least 1,000 combatants and civilians dead.

No date for the talks was announced, although the government's national security spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, earlier said the government has suggested Oct. 30 or Nov. 10 as possible dates.

The government was to hold a press conference later Tuesday to discuss the talks, officials said.

The government had previously said it wants a personal commitment from the rebels' reclusive leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, to end all violence before any talks.

Tuesday's meeting was part of Hanssen-Bauer's stepped up diplomatic efforts to restart peace talks.

Following the peace talks in Geneva in February, a second round slated for April was canceled after each side blamed the other for rising violence.

On Monday, Hanssen-Bauer held separate meetings with top government negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Palitha Kohona, chief of the government's peace secretariat, officials said.

Meanwhile, a rebel Web site said air force fighter jets bombed rebel-held areas 20 kilometers (32 miles) away from where the talks were taking place.

``This morning, they (rebels) were firing artillery toward our forces in the northern peninsula and the air force attacked three identified rebel artillery positions to neutralize their attack,'' military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Tamil Tigers attacked a police camp in Murunkan in northern Vavuniya district, prompting police to retaliate, Samarasinghe said , adding that the insurgents were armed with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

Police did not suffer any casualties, but they later recovered the body of one rebel, he said.

Associated Press writer Krishan Francis contributed to this report Discuss this story
Published: Tue Oct 3 10:17:02 EDT 2006

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