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Rajapaksa visits Russia to bolster ties

[Hindu, Wednesday, 15 June 2011 19:59 No Comment]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa left for Russia on Wednesday to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to which Sri Lanka has been invited as an observer.

The forum, held annually with the support and participation of the Russian President, brings together politicians, corporate heads and economic experts to outline their approach on key issues affecting the global economy. Apart from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the other heads of nations who are expected to participate include Chinese President Hu Jintao, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to the official website of the forum.

Mr. Rajapaksa’s three-day visit will further cement Sri Lanka’s fledgling relationship with Russia, which was shifted to a higher plane by Russia’s support to Sri Lanka after the release of the United Nations Panel of Experts Report on Accountability. The U.N. had held the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE responsible for the killing of civilians in the last stages of the conflict. Sri Lanka has rejected the report.

“Sri Lanka and Russia can be proud of a great friendship,” said Presidential Media Division Director-General Bandula Jayasekara, who is also part of the entourage. Though an observer, Sri Lanka will use the presence of its President to showcase the island nation as a stable region of high growth.

The Sri Lankan delegation is also expected to meet other delegations on the sidelines to clarify on recent events in Sri Lanka, including the U.N. report.

Documentary

In fact, Sri Lanka has been on an overdrive in international fora as it battles challenges on multiple fronts, especially over the conduct of Eelam War IV with the LTTE between 2006 and 2009.

The latest in the series of challenges is the U.K.-based Channel 4 documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, which was shown to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council in May. It was aired on June 14 in the U.K.

In a release, the Sri Lankan government denied it had deliberately targeted its own civilians, as the Channel 4 documentary alleges.

[Full Coverage]

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