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In Sri Lanka, Tamil Tiger cease-fire gets cool reception

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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – Just days after a defiant air attack here, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has proposed a cease-fire in the north of the island where its fighters are boxed in by a military advance. In a statement, the separatist group called on the US and other international donors to press the Sri Lankan government to stop fighting and seek a political solution to the 26-year-old conflict.

But the cease-fire offer fell well short of the unconditional surrender sought by the government, which swiftly rejected the LTTE's appeal. It also seems unlikely to sway the hardening stance among Sri Lanka’s allies that the war has reached a decisive point that requires the losing party to lay down arms before any political deal emerges.

In recent weeks, international calls for a halt to hostilities in the north, where at least 70,000 civilians are still trapped by fighting, have given way to pressure on the LTTE to let non-combatants go. The Red Cross has evacuated thousands of wounded civilians and has warned of dire conditions for those trapped behind. The UN says the LTTE is forcibly recruiting children into its ranks.

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