The Sri Lankan government said Monday it is committed to a lasting peace with Tamil Tiger rebels and is taking steps to resume the stalled talks. "The government wants to make it clear that we are in favor of starting the process as soon as possible," government spokesman and media minister, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, told reporters.
"We are taking proper steps and when they are complete, we can go ahead," Yapa said.
The comments came after Sri Lanka's newly elected President Mahinda Rajapakse called an emergency meeting of his aides, a day after the top Tamil Tiger leader threatened to intensify the rebels' struggle for an independent homeland next year if the ethnic minority's grievances were not addressed.
Velupillai Prabhakaran did not set an exact deadline in his speech Sunday, but said that Rajapakse must lay out a plan that satisfies the political aspirations of the country's 3.2 million Tamils, who seek a homeland in the northeast.
"If the new government rejects our urgent appeal, we will, next year, in solidarity with our people, intensify our struggle for self-determination, our struggle for national liberation to establish self-government in our homeland," he said, reports the AP. I.L.