Colombo, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka unilaterally extended a ceasefire with the nation’s separatist guerrillas Monday and diplomatic sources said the Tamil militants were expected to go along to the temporary truce.
Minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali said the extension of a 8monthold ceasefire due to expire Wednesday was for an indefinite period. He said the government reserved the right to take action against any groups or persons who violate it.
The national security minister said security forces would likely pledge to honor the extended ceasefire when their delegations met later Monday in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was Gandhi who mediated the initial truce.
Athulathmudali’s announcement came barely 12 hours after talks between Indian High Commissioner J.N. Dixit and Sri Lankan President Junius Jayewardene. The Indian envoy was in New Delhi last week for consultations with Gandhi and other high-ranking Indian officials.
Sri Lanka said in a four paragraph official statement that it was following with ethnic conflict through discussions with different Sri Lankan Tamil groups.
Athulathmudali said Sri Lanka considered the arrival of Tamil militant groups in New Delhi for discussions on the problem a step forward in the peace process. All major groups, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, will be represented in the talks, he said.
Sunday, Jayewardene said his government was prepared to resume its war on the separatists when the ceasefire expired, saying his government could not wait while rebels stepped up the conflict.
He accused the guerrillas of intensifying their offensive in the northeastern district of Trincomalee, where they already control a 20mile stretch of land.
Tamils say they suffer discrimination from them and have been waging a violent independent state called Eelam in the north and east of the Indian Ocean island nation.
The predominantly Hindu Tamils trace their ancestral roots back to the southeast Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka has accused India of harboring training camps for Tamil rebels near Madras, the state capital.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 20, 1985