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Page last updated at 20:23 GMT, Monday, 21 July 2008 21:23 UK

Tigers call Colombo summit truce

Tamil Tiger rebels photographed with their faces digitally obscured in a recent press release by the group
The Tigers deny government reports that they are a defeated force

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have called a 10-day truce for the duration of a regional summit in the capital, but have ruled out peace talks.

They said they would offer a ceasefire from 26 July to 4 August, when Colombo hosts a South Asian summit, as a gesture of goodwill to other states.

But they said peace talks were impossible while the government continued offensives against them.

Sri Lanka's civil war has claimed some 70,000 lives since 1983.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said earlier this month he was ready to re-start talks with the rebels if the group laid down its arms and ceased bombings and other attacks across the country.

A 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire fell apart a few years later amid fresh fighting.

"As a sign of... goodwill, our movement is glad to inform that it will observe a unilateral ceasefire that is devoid of military actions during the period of the Saarc [South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation] conference," the Tigers said in an e-mailed statement.

Balasingham Nadesan, head of the rebels' political wing, said Mr Rajapaksa's conditions for talks were "naive" and "impractical".

"It is impossible to hold peace talks when one party, the government of Sri Lanka, is undertaking large-scale military offensives," he told the Associated Press news agency in an interview on Monday.

Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka, commander of the Sri Lankan army, said recently that the Tamil Tigers had been defeated as a conventional force, while adding that a low-level insurgency could last indefinitely.




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