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U.N. report underscores importance of a durable political solution: Blake

[Hindu, Wednesday, 4 May 2011 17:12 No Comment]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake Jr. was not able to meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa here, but that did not prevent him from delivering the messages he carried from the Harry S. Truman building in Washington DC: talk to the Tamils and arrive at a comprehensive agreement and, enter into a dialogue with the United Nations.

“The government and Tamil National Alliance have conducted several rounds of talks with another round scheduled on May 12. I expressed our hope that these talks can result in a comprehensive agreement that can help Sri Lanka heal the wounds of war and ensure that all Sri Lankans enjoy equal rights and a future of hope and opportunity,” he said in a statement after a series of “productive meetings” with Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, members of the opposition, and representatives of civil society.

Mr. Blake Jr.’s second message: “The UN report (prepared by the Expert Panel set up by U.N. Secretary-General) underscores the importance of a durable political solution that can forge a prosperous, democratic and united Sri Lanka, but also the importance of dialogue between the U.N. and the Government of Sri Lanka… I am encouraged that External Affairs Minister Peiris will communicate soon with the U.N. Secretary-General and by his statement that Sri Lanka wants cordial relations with the Secretary-General and his team.”

Mr. Blake Jr. acknowledged that Sri Lanka had the forum to achieve reconciliation and wanted the body set up for the purpose to fulfil its mandate: “The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is playing an important role in the reconciliation process…We hope that the LLRC will also address accountability and will offer recommendations on how to redress wrongs committed by both sides during the conflict,” he said.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Prof. Peiris briefed Mr. Blair Jr. “on the Government’s position regarding the Darusman report. The Minister said that a clear distinction has to be made between the Advisory Panel and the United Nations and that the report had no stature as a U.N. document. The Minister added that Sri Lanka has a cordial relationship with the U.N. and will engage with it…The Minister further said that a detailed letter will be sent to the Secretary-General by the Government on developments and progress made in the country.”

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