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Sri Lanka keen to put relations with US back on track

The new Sri Lanka govt has pledged a credible domestic process of inquiry with help from UN.

By: Press Trust of India | Washington | February 13, 2015 3:31:24 pm
Maithripala Sirisena Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena.(Source: Reuters)

The new Sri Lankan government is keen to normalise ties with the US, foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera said as he expressed optimism on winning a delay in the publication of a UN report into the alleged warcrimes committed during the civil war against the LTTE.

“The relations have been somewhat strained in the last few years and my job I feel is to that we put back our relations to a irreversible state of excellence in the coming months,” Samaraweera told his US counterpart John Kerry.

“For us, for the new administration, the United States of America is not a threat but a great opportunity. The US government relations with Sri Lanka had been under strain during the former regime of president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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The US moved three anti-Sri Lanka resolutions in the UN Human Rights Council.

The last of the resolutions in 2014 moved for an international probe on alleged war crimes committed by both government troops and the LTTE during the separatist war.

Sri Lanka dubbed US action then as undermining of its sovereignty.

Rajapaksa was replaced by Maithripala Sirisena as President in January and the new government has taken measures to douse international flames of strain by addressing Tamil minority issues.

Samaraweera is currently engaged in a diplomatic move to win a postponement of a Sri Lanka report at the UN human rights body in March despite opposition from the Tamil lobby.

The new government has pledged a credible domestic process of inquiry with help from UN and the international agencies.

The Tamil groups stay discontent with the move.

Welcoming Samaraweera, the US Secretary of State said on January 8 in an historic election Sri Lankans had vote for change, “a vote to move Sri Lanka in a new direction, to open up greater accountability and possibility for the preservation of human rights, for democracy, for fighting corruption and putting together a government that will speak for and to the people”.

Kerry said the US is particularly excited about the 100-day plan that the new government has put forward.

“We wish them well in the days ahead, and we’re going to talk today about President Sirisena’s thoughts about how to move Sri Lanka away from 30 years of war with the Tamils to a country that is inclusive and prosperous and peaceful,” he said.

Samaraweeera assured Kerry that Sri Lanka was going through a democratic revival with a programme of far-reaching democratic reforms and constitutional amendments.

The island’s new government gives priority to the reconciliation process based on the principles of unity in diversity – the diversity of cultures, diversity of ethnic groups, and diversity of religions.

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