Acting Defence Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake yesterday warned the LTTE not to provoke the security forces. Addressing the security forces top brass onboard the newly commissioned ?SLN Samudura? (formerly US Coast Guard Vessel ?Courageous?) on Thursday, Wickremanayake said that the forces would have no option but to retaliate if the LTTE continued to `make things difficult for us. If they are really interested in fighting a war they can do it among themselves`.
The minister said the government had entered in to a Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE and the security forces have always abided by it since `we are very much committed to peace. But the Liberation Tigers are adopting various ruses to provoke the security forces thus violating the CFA. Our men have been tolerating their cowardly acts of provocation for long and it can?t go on for ever he noted. It?s not our culture, our security forces are a well trained and a highly disciplined lot and if the LTTE thinks that our forces will be lured into the trap laid by them it?s a big mistake`.
He said the doors for a peaceful solution has been opened and all parties should strive to achieve lasting peace.
He expressed his gratitude to the US government for their gift of the Off Shore Patrol vessel.
Chief of Defence Staff and Navy Commander Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri addressing the media said `We are very serious on achieving lasting peace and if the LTTE tries to scuttle our efforts towards this goal we will not tolerate them. I have never changed my stance towards the Tigers and the navy is prepared to face any situation in the sea. If the LTTE tries to make a mockery of the peace process they will learn a biter lesson`.
Also present at the ceremony were American Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead, Defence Secretary Major Gen Asoka Jayawardena, Sunil Sirisena, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Army Commander Lt Gen Shantha Kottegoda, Air Force Commander Air vice Marshal Donald Perera and IGP Chandra Fernando.