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 Post subject: Lanka says war or peace option with LTTE
 Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 11:39 pm 
Lanka says war or peace option with LTTE

"War or peace, we are ready. It is in their hands. It is now up to the Tigers to decide which path they want to tread on," the President

@ The Hindu / Thursday, July 19, 2007

Colombo, July 19 (PTI): As security forces wrested the last bastion of rebels in the island's east, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that it was up to Tamil Tigers to decide between war and peace.

"War or peace, we are ready. It is in their hands. It is now up to the Tigers to decide which path they want to tread on," the President told the state-run Daily News today.

The interview was published on the day the President chaired ceremonies here marking the military victory in Thoppigala, in the east of the island last week and the "Eastern Reawakening" programme.

Asked if the military wanted to extend action to the North in the aftermath of gaining total control over the East or whether he intends to negotiate with the LTTE from a position of strength, the President said the Government would act in accordance with the option that is chosen by the LTTE.

"LTTE has no desire for peace

"We have never hesitated to negotiate and we never left the negotiating table. It was the LTTE which always abandoned talks midway. This happened in Geneva, Oslo and on many other occasions. It is the LTTE which has no desire for peace," the President said.

He said an All Party Conference was already trying to evolve a consensual political solution to the island's drawn out conflict which has claimed over 60,000 lives in the past 35 years.

"It will not be a proposal initiated by the Government alone. It will be a collective effort of all political parties. All political parties must make a healthy contribution... to make this a reality. They must not shirk this responsibility," Rajapakse said.

Reiterating the government's commitment to a political solution, he, however, pointed out that the government would never betray the nation in evolving such a solution.

He said the fall of Thoppigala, the last Tiger bastion in the East, marked not only the total domination of the East by the Security Forces and the Government, but also a new era for the people of the East who were oppressed by the LTTE.

He attributed the success of the humanitarian operation in the East to correct political as well as military leadership.

Priorities

"Our immediate priority is establishing civil administration in the area. We will develop infrastructure facilities, health, education and welfare measures. Later on we will be holding local and provincial elections so that Easterners can elect their own representatives. Such democratic rights were stifled by the LTTE," the president said.

The Eastern Reawakening programme which begins today will address all these issues, he added.

Security was stepped up in Colombo as Rajapakse viewed a military parade at Colombo's Independence Square where the National Day celebrations are usually held.


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