Saturday, June 14, 2008

LTTE must disarm before peace talks - President

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were able to raise millions of pounds each year from the Tamil community in Britain, some of whom were coerced into donating the money.

"You can't have two different attitudes towards terrorism," he told The Times in an interview this week during a visit to London for a Commonwealth meeting, where he raised the issue with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

"I don't agree that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists. There is only one kind of terrorist." There are about 150,000 Tamils living in Britain, mostly in North London. The Sri Lankans estimate that o70 million is sent home every year.

"These are not voluntary contributions, the money is taken by force, usually a percentage of their income," said President Rajapaksa. "The money is sent back to buy weapons. London is not the only place; money is also sent from Europe, Canada and other places."

President Rajapaksa said that he was taking steps to protect human rights. He blamed his Government's poor international reputation on "clever propaganda" by the Tigers. "We have failed in the propaganda fight," he said.

President Rajapaksa insisted yesterday that in spite of the cost in lives and damage inflicted to Sri Lanka's tourist trade he would not resume peace talks with the Tamil Tigers until the organisation agreed to disarm.

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