COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Tamil Tiger (search) rebels plan to reject a Sri Lankan government proposal to resume peace talks because it lacks clarity and does not address their core demand for Tamil self-rule, an influential Tamil newspaper reported Thursday.
"There are no clear, concrete and comprehensive arrangements with regard to the basic aspects on the resumption of talks in the government's fresh agenda," Sudar Oli newspaper quoted unnamed rebel officials as saying.
Sudar Oli, which is known for being reliable in reporting on rebel affairs, did not give details of the rebels' rejection but to say that the creation of a self-governing Tamil authority in Sri Lanka's (search) north and east should feature on the peace talks agenda.
The report said chief rebel negotiator Anton Balasingham will convey the decision to the government through Norwegian mediators trying to bring a permanent end to Sri Lanka's two-decade-old civil conflict.
The government on Monday made its latest proposal to resume peace talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (search). The proposal sought formal commitments from the rebels to honor Sri Lanka's sovereignty and integrity, and not to work for a separate Tamil state.
In exchange, the government would no longer insist that peace talks focus on a final settlement before addressing the rebels' interim demands for broad autonomy in Tamil-dominated areas.
During peace talks held in Oslo in December 2002, the government claims that the rebels agreed to explore a federal solution to the civil war that has killed some 65,000 people. The Tigers later backed out of the so-called Oslo Declaration, saying an agreement was not ratified.
The talks have been stalled since April 2003, when the rebels demanded increased authority in the north and east.
The rebels want talks to focus on a largely independent Tamil territory with control over its own administration, police and legal system, unrestricted access to the sea, and the right to collect taxes and receive direct foreign aid.