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|Friday, November 03, 2000, updated at 12:10(GMT+8)|
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger Rebel Leader Responds Positively for Peace TalksSri Lanka's Tamil Tiger Rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has responded positively for peace negotiations during Norwegian envoy Erik Solhiem's three-day visit to his jungle hideout recently.
Solhiem told reporters in Colombo Thursday night that the talks were serious, frank and very useful. He added that the rebel leader had not laid down any preconditions for the peace talks.
Solhiem said that he had not taken any letter from the government with him on his visit to Prabhakaran.
He added that the international community's effort was based on two clear principles. Firstly, the solution to the conflict should be found within the integrity of Sri Lanka without creating a separate state and secondly the aspirations of the Tamils should be met in a substantial manner.
However, the Island newspaper quoted Friday a release from the Tiger rebels' international secretariat in London as saying that Prabhakaran had called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, removal of military aggression and occupation and the withdrawal of economic embargo as essential prerequisites to resume peace negotiations with the government.
The release added that the government should take the initiative by relaxing the conditions of war if they want genuine peace.
The peace initiative has been welcomed by the main opposition United National Party.
Solhiem is due to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga and brief her on talks with Prabhakaran on Friday. He is also due to meet opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Sri Lanka's 17-year bloody ethnic war has seen earlier efforts for a negotiated peace but all failed. In 1990 President Ranasinghe invited the Tiger rebels to Colombo for peace talks but after two weeks of negotiations they pulled out of the talks.
A similar effort by President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994 was reneged by the Tiger rebels who re-commenced the war by attacking Trincomalee harbor and destroying two navy ships.
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