NEW DELHI, India, Jan. 16, Reuter: The leader of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger guerrilla group has appealed to the Indian government to halt military operations against the rebels and open peace talks.

In a letter to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi dated January 13 but released in Madras on Saturday by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran pledged the group’s readiness to lay down its weapons in Sri Lanka.

But the Press Trust of India said the offer was conditional on an interim administration being formed in northern Sri Lanka with a majority role for the LTTE.

In another suggestion, rejected by New Delhi in the past, Prabhakaran said peace would be helped by the withdrawal of Indian peacekeeping troops in Sri Lanka to positions they held before their offensive against the Tigers began last October.

Some 35,000 Indian soldiers are now deployed in North and East Sri Lanka to subdue LTTE rebels, fighting for an independent state for the Island’s Tamil minority.

The Tigers were the only Tamil guerrillas group which repudiated last July’s Indo Sri Lankan accord aimed at forging a political settlement for the Island.

Several similar appeals from the elusive Prabhakaran have been rejected by the Indian government.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 22, 1988