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Chandrika softens Tiger stand

Colombo, Feb. 3 (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s President today called on the Tamil Tiger rebels to make good on a pledge to stop recruiting child soldiers, a vow seen as a litmus test of the guerrillas’ sincerity in peace talks.

The government and the rebels signed a Norwegian-brokered truce a year ago and hold a fifth round of peace talks in Germany starting on Friday.

In a conciliatory statement issued for Sri Lanka’s National Day tomorrow, President Chandrika Kumaratunga said the only way to permanently end the two-decade war that has killed 64,000 people was to make space for all groups in a united Sri Lanka.

But while praising the government headed by her arch-rival Ranil Wickremesinghe for its efforts to end the war, Kumaratunga said the LTTE had to show more sincerity by fulfilling promises. “I wish to make a special appeal to the LTTE: Please do not recruit children for armed conflict,” she said.

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