Sri Lanka vows to crush LTTE

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan president on Thursday ruled out halting the military’s offensive against the Tamil Tigers, and warned the rebels that they must give up or be killed.“We have no plans to go for a ceasefire with the Tigers, but they have a little time left to drop their weapons and surrender even though our military operation is at a final stage,” said President Mahinda Rajapakse.

The comments came a day after the foreign ministers of Britain and France, David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, visited the island to push for an end to the fighting as well as for aid agency access to trapped civilians.

The president said he would not bow to the international pressure, and promised instead to “rescue” Tamil civilians. He also accused Western governments of being hypocrites. “They are trying to preach to us about civilians. I tell them to go and see what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “If I say we don’t use heavy weapons, that means we don’t. But these foreign envoys are prepared to believe the propaganda of a terrorist organisation,” the president added. But Miliband and Kouchner, in a joint commentary published in The Times in London today, signalled they would maintain pressure on the Sri Lankan government.

“As members of the Security Council we do not shy away from the responsibility of sovereign governments and the international community to protect civilians,” they said.

“Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has joined us in describing the failure to protect civilians in Sri Lanka as truly shocking.” The president’s influential brother, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, said that the two foreign ministers were bluntly informed that the offensive would continue until the Tigers were wiped out.