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Lankan gov't assures it will not return to war with LTTE

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Colombo, Jan 13, IRNA
Sri Lanka-Government-LTTE
Sri Lankan government Thursday gave an assurance it would not return to war with the Tamil Tiger rebels despite the acts of provocation, urging them to break the prolonged deadlock and return to the negotiating table.

"The government will neither start a war nor provoke the LTTE, but will truly abide by the provisions of the existing cease-fire agreement," media reported quoting government spokesman and Minister of Health Nimal Sripala de Silva as saying in Colombo.

Claiming that the situation in the restive northern Jaffna peninsula has been brought under control by the security forces, the minister said that the government's commitment to a negotiated political settlement will not be deterred by the acts of the LTTE.

"Being a responsible government, we will behave very well unlike the LTTE. In fact the donor co-chairs have praised the government and reprimanded the LTTE. President Mahinda Rajapakse has given a strong signal to the armed forces not to retaliate against any LTTE provocations, except for the purpose of defense," the spokesman said.

The government hailed the statement made by US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka earlier this week, where he came down hard on the LTTE and warned that the rebel outfit would have to pay dearly if it decided to resort to war.

President Rajapakse has had lengthy discussions with all political parties represented in the Parliament in a bid to forge a common ground and none of them want to go to war, de Silva said.

The government was hopeful the visit by Norway's special peace envoy and Minister of International Development Erik Solheim beginning from January 23 would help break the ice, he added.

"Mr Solheim is scheduled to visit Kilinochchi and we hope with his visit we should be able in some manner to break the existing deadlock and resume the direct peace dialogue. We hope that his visit will be fruitful," he said.


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