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|Tuesday, January 09, 2001, updated at 16:07(GMT+8)|
Sri Lankan President Vows to End WarSri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga vowed Monday to bring an end to the 18-year ethnic war between separatist Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces in the north and east of the country and rebuild the north with foreign financial assistance, the state-run Daily News reported Tuesday.
In a lengthy speech Monday via satellite to the people in the north of the country, the president noted "my government believes that one of its top priorities that we have to address ourselves is ending this most destructive war which has wreaked havoc and caused much sadness in the lives of all of you."
She said that the government has offered minority Tamils who dominate the north permanent peace more than a ceasefire.
The president emphasized that the only way to reach that goal was for the two warring parties to agree to end the war.
Kumaratunga reiterated that her government is ready for a ceasefire if the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was willing to begin negotiations.
She described the LTTE's offer of one-month unilateral ceasefire as a ploy to launch fresh offensives against government forces. Such a ceasefire was merely a weapon for the LTTE to continue on the path of destruction, she added.
The president held the LTTE rebels solely responsible for the intensified military operations by government forces following the LTTE ceasefire offer on December 21.
The government responded the LTTE ceasefire offer two days later by saying it will consider a ceasefire only after peace negotiations between the government and the LTTE rebels proceed to the satisfaction of both sides.
The president also accused the LTTE rebels of refusing to participate in any discussions which would guarantee the rights of the Tamil people.
The government would utilize large amount of loan obtained from foreign donors and organizations during the Development Forum meeting held in Paris last December to develop the north which has been the center of the fighting between the two sides, the president said.
The LTTE rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate Tamil state in the north and east of the country. In the past they have entered peace negotiations with the government several times but violated agreements with the government and resumed fighting later on.
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