B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday said his government was ready for talks with the LTTE, provided the latter is ready to give up arms and demonstrate “genuine intent” to evolve a political solution.

Speaking at the Oxford Union, Mr. Rajapaksa referred to the recently-concluded elections for the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) and said though many observers said the LTTE was invincible, the government had freed the province from “terror”.

“As our forces seek to defeat and disarm the LTTE, we are firm in our resolve to have a negotiated solution to the crisis. I do not believe in a military solution. We have attempted talks with the LTTE on several occasions — thrice since my election as the President — but they have not reciprocated. They have always left the talks with lame excuses. We are still ready to talk, once we are certain of their genuine intent for a political solution and their readiness to give up arms,” he said.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the fear psychosis created by the LTTE may cause some lapses in judgment, but by and large, independent observers always commended the efficiency, politeness and courtesy of the soldiers.

“We must remember that there are no methods or solutions that are universally applicable to situations of this nature. It is the duty of a government to assure the public of security. It is the terrorist group that decides when to strike: they decide the time and place. They are in no way constrained by the values and procedures which rightly control the responses of democratic governments. These realities must be taken into account as the basis of a fair and objective assessment of Sri Lanka’s situation,” he added.

Separately, the Air Force claimed it bombed “a key LTTE training facility” in Kollanvillu, Kilinochchi on Wednesday. Also, the military claimed that at least 11 LTTE cadres were killed and 17 injured along the Forward Defence Lines in the north. “Another 22 cadres were reported to have been either killed or wounded. In addition, 10 soldiers were injured,” said the Defence Ministry.