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US reaffirms support to reconciliation process

US reaffirms support to reconciliation process

2011 Jan 23

Responding to queries over the ongoing private visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the US State Department on Friday reaffirmed its support to the Sri Lankan domestic process on accountability issues now before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley told reporters in Washington on Friday that the US is supporting Sri Lanka’s process, when asked about calls to investigate President Rajapaksa for alleged violations of humanitarian laws, adding that there was no reason for the Government to block the private visit of President Rajapaksa to the US. “We have made strong public statements and are supporting what Sri Lanka is doing. It’s a process that is still ongoing,” he said.

“There is a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission that has been receiving testimony from hundreds of people. I think its mandate has been extended to June this year, at which time it will make a report to President Rajapaksa.” The State Department official has said that they have not scheduled official meetings between Robert O Blake or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Rajapaksa as he was there on a private visit. There had been speculation that President may meet Blake who was in Houston to attend a university function. When asked why the US would not seize the opportunity while the Sri Lankan President is in the country to meet him on the issue, the spokesman said the process is still ongoing and will speak if necessary.

“We’ve had no trouble in communicating our views to the Government of Sri Lanka,” Crowley said.

“We’re going to wait and see how this process unfolds, and if it falls short, we will not hesitate to say so,” he said.

The LLRC has heard hundreds of testimonies from all over the country and the panel of experts and its work has received commendation from the UN and the Secretary General.

The LLRC is expected to wrap up the hearings shortly to finalise the report to the President.

The United Nations Secretary General and many members of the UN expressed the desire to see a continuation of the domestic process in contrast to a few controversial human rights watchdogs that have expressed opposite views.

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