Lanka firm on dual strategy to end ethnic conflict

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Colombo, Jan 11 (UNI) Dismissing the offer by the Tamil Tigers to continue the discarded Norwegian-brokered six-year truce deal, Sri Lanka today said it was firm on its dual politico-military strategy to end the ethnic conflict.

''We are very firm on giving a fitful military solution to the LTTE's terror campaign and offering a political solution to the Tamil ethnic question,'' a top government official told UNI over the phone.

''There is no ambiguity on the government stand in this regard whatsoever. The government is hopeful of coming with a concrete political package by February 4,'' the official said on condition of anonymity.

The country is celebrating its 60th independence day on February 4.

The official said the government has neither got any fresh offer from the rebels nor expecting one from them.

The government last week withdrew unilaterally from the ceasefire, saying ''it does not want to be a party to a non-functioning, useless ceasefire agreement'' which has been violated thousands of time.

The government has also indicated that it wanted to redefine the future role of Norwegian facilitators.

Addressing a public rally, President Mahinda Rajapaksa last month ruled out any talks with the rebels, claiming that crushing the rebels militarily was a pre-requisite for finding any political solution to the ethnic conflict.

The government reaction comes a day after the rebels wrote to the Norwegian facilitators, expressing the organisation's readiness to continue the truce pact and urging Norway to continue its role as facilitator with the backing of the international community.

Accusing the Rajapaksa government of war mongering, the LTTE charged, ''History is replete with examples of the Government of Sri Lanka's (GOSL) abrogation of pacts that were made to bring permanent peace for the Tamil people.'' In the letter, the Tamil Tigers said that the abrogation by Colombo ''has clearly demonstrated that the GOSL will never permit the Tamil people to live with freedom in their homeland.'' ''The international community must understand this, and immediately remove the bans it has placed on the LTTE, believing the false propaganda of the GOSL; accept the just aspirations of the Tamil people; and recognise their rights to live with self-determination in their homeland,'' the Tigers said.

UNI XC SKB BD1553

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