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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2525

Sri Lanka President in Vaharai – told LTTE to give up arms and come for talks

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 03 February, ( Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa flew to the newly liberated Vaharai in the Eastern province of the island one day before the country’s 59th independence day celebrations and categorically told the Tamil Tigers who lost the area after ten years of domination that it was time they lay down their arms and sit down for talks for a political solution.

"This is a big opportunity for the Tigers to return to the negotiating table. I will offer them a political solution and they should come for talks," he told reporters who accompanied him on the trip.

When reporters asked him what he would do if the Tamil Tigers refused to come to talks he said in that case he will have to tame them.

President Rajapaksa said he would offer a political package but he asked the Tigers to decommission their arms. "They must begin surrendering weapons and come for talks," he said.

Rajapaksa said that he flew to Vaharai specially to thank the security forces for liberating the Tamil people from the LTTE dictatorship without harming the civilians. "What we have done is to liberate the people from terrorists," Rajapakse said. "I am here to thank the troops for their valiant action without causing a single civilian casualty.” The Tamil rebels held Vaharai under their control which is a stretch of a beautiful coastal land 330 kilometers long for over a decade before the security forces defeated them few weeks ago. The President visited the new police station just opened and mingled with the soldiers and elite special troops who first entered the town.

The President said after 2004 Tsunami, that did a huge damage to the lives and property of the area, the people received a large amount of aid but very little is seen here. He said he would like foreign ambassadors to come and see how much aid they pumped in to the area had actually benefited the people.

Troops said they were clearing thousands of mines laid by the Tamil Tigers and the place will be ready for resettlement in few weeks time. The top army commander in the area Brigadier Day Ratnayaka said some people have already come back and examined their homes and gone. Many houses have been damaged by long range artillery fire.

"First we must remove the mines," Rajapakse said. "Then we have to get equipment in and start a development program for the resettlement of the IDPs. We want to get on and build houses for the people."

- Asian Tribune -

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