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New Sri Lankan President Promises to Pursue Peace

  • VOA News

Sri Lanka's new president has promised to pursue peace with the separatist Tamil Tigers, but says he will never allow the country to be divided. In his inaugural address on Saturday, Mahinda Rajapakse said he would initiate a new round of deadlocked peace talks with the Tamil rebels (formally known as the L.T.T.E. - or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

He promised to respect a 2002 ceasefire agreement, but said he wanted to review the Norway-brokered accord. The Tamils have warned against tampering with the truce and have accused Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese of discrimination. In a statement posted on the Internet Saturday, the rebel group called on the international community to stop pressing it to negotiate with the Sri Lankan government in Colombo. Mr. Rajapakse won the November 17th balloting by a slim margin after minority Tamil voters expected to back the more conciliatory opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe stayed away after an election boycott enforced by the rebels.

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