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Sri Lanka Offers to Reopen Key Highway if Tamil Tigers Stop Attacks


Sri Lanka's government has offered to re-open a key highway linking the northern Jaffna peninsula to the rest of the island if Tamil Tiger rebels stop attacks.

The government closed the highway two months ago after it came under rebel attack. The Tamil Tigers say the highway's closure has virtually imprisoned 600-thousand people who live in Jaffna.

Tuesday's offer from chief government negotiator Nimal Siripala came two days after the collapse of peace talks in Geneva.

The talks broke down after the government rejected the rebels' demand to re-open the highway. Negotiators left the meeting without setting a date for future talks.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan navy says it destroyed a trawler suspected of transporting arms for Tamil Tiger rebels. The incident took place late Tuesday off the northern coast.

Tamil Tigers also claim the government is massing troops near the northern line that divides government- and rebel-held territory, in preparation for a possible offensive.

Rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils, who say they have been victimized for decades by the country's majority ethnic group, the Sinhalese.

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