Sri Lanka is offering an amnesty to Tamil Tiger rebels who lay down arms and surrender to government forces, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told parliament Thursday.
"There are reports that groups of people who took part in terrorist activities in the north (of the island) are ready to give themselves up," the premier said.
"It is a wise decision and we are ready to welcome them," he added, without giving any details about the terms of the proposed amnesty.
The premier made no references to the top leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) but officials have made it clear that there can be no pardon for Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran and his main lieutenants.
The comments came as government forces maintained their offensive against the Tigers, who are surrounded in the northeast of the island, having lost more than 98 percent of the territory that was under their control a year ago.
Sri Lanka has rejected any negotiations with the Tigers on terms of surrender and vowed to defeat them by military means.
The privately-run Island newspaper in a front-page editorial said that Sri Lanka's defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse told them recently that there can be no amnesty for Tiger leaders who must be "tried and hanged" but low level rebel cadres could be "rehabilitated".