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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 04:13 GMT 05:13 UK
Tamil Tigers cool on peace offer
Jaffna
The Tigers say rebuilding of the north-east has been too slow
Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka say the government's latest offer to resume peace negotiations does not go far enough.

The rebels were reacting to the government's proposal to establish an interim administration for the north-east of the island - a demand which they have been making for some time.

In a statement the Tamil Tigers said the government had failed to spell out the details of the proposal so it was too early to resume peace talks.

The Norwegian-brokered talks have been deadlocked since the Tamil Tigers broke off talks in April.

"We will insist on a radical overhaul of the entire peace process," the Tigers' London-based chief negotiator Anton Balasingham said in a statement.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe went on television on Thursday night to announce that he had offered to set up a new power-sharing structure in an effort to lure the Tigers back to the talks.

Both sides have been observing a ceasefire for more than a year. But the peace process has been in trouble in recent months over the issue of power-sharing.

The Tigers have made it clear they want to be in charge of all aspects of law and order and other areas such as education.

The BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo says there is clearly growing frustration on the rebel side about the government's persistent reluctance to give them power.

But critics of the peace process, she says, will complain that instead of being grateful, the rebels are becoming increasingly uncompromising.

"We expect a responsible and active participation from the [Tamil Tigers]," Mr Wickramasinghe said in his speech on Thursday.

"I am confident they will honour their responsibility."

Tensions rose over the weekend, with the navy sinking a rebel boat and the rebels being blamed for shooting dead two Tamil politicians.




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