Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan government today agreed to a cease-fire, setting the stage for ending an 11-year civil war that has wreaked havoc in the small island country and resulted in 34,000 deaths. The roots of the conflict lie in demands by the minority Hindu Tamils -- who comprise 18 percent of the island's population of 17 million -- to establish an independent homeland in the north and the east. The Tamils claim that they face discrimination by the Buddhist Sinhalese, who control the government and the military. While no date was set for the truce agreed upon today, government peace negotiators said it will probably begin before the arrival of Pope John Paul II on Jan. 20. As part of the agreement, government officials announced an $804 million aid package to battered rebel territories.