Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels say they are willing to accept international calls for a cease-fire with the government, but government officials are rejecting any truce that does not include the rebels' unconditional surrender.

The political head of the rebel Tamil Tigers, Balasingham Nadesan, had earlier said that while the separatists will  accept a cease-fire, they will not disarm.  He said the rebels must keep their weapons in order to provide protection to ethnic minority Tamils.

But, he said the rebels are ready for talks to seek a political solution to the conflict.

Nadesan made the comments in a letter sent Monday to the United Nations and Sri Lanka's key international donors (the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway).

Sri Lanka's government Monday dismissed any talk of a truce.

Tamil rebels have been fighting for an independent homeland for more than 25 years.  In recent months, the Sri Lankan military has made huge gains in its efforts to push the rebels from their northern strongholds. 

The Sri Lankan military says it is close to defeating the rebel group.

The United Nations top humanitarian official Saturday appealed to the Sri Lankan military and Tiger rebels to spare civilians by avoiding a big final battle.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.