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US seeks commitment from Lanka over reconciliation efforts

September 14, 2012 19:47 IST

The United States on Friday asked Sri Lanka to speed up its probe into allegations of rights abuses during the civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, resume talks with Tamil parties on power sharing and reduce the role of the military in the former conflict zone.

US Assistant Secretary of State, Central and South Asian Affairs, Robert Blake told reporters, "It is incumbent upon the government to show that it is committed by doing everything it can to move ahead as quickly as possible on the full range of actions that were mentioned in the LLRC report."

Blake said he had discussed with Sri Lanka the need for accelerated progress to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and the National Action Plan.

"I emphasised the importance of progress in reducing the role and profile of the military in the north, and full respect for human rights," he said.

On issues of accountability, Blake said that three years after the end of the conflict, there can be credible and transparent accounting, investigation and prosecution of serious allegations of human rights violations as well as progress on probe into missing persons.

Blake's comments came months after the US moved a United Nations resolution against Sri Lanka, censuring Colombo for its alleged human rights abuses during the last phase of the three-decade long civil war.

"I also urged that the Northern Provincial Council elections be held as soon as possible and encouraged an early resumption of talks between the Tamil National Alliance and the government to agree on powers to be devolved to the provinces", he said.

Sri Lanka wants northern elections to happen only by September 2013.

The US pressure came as Sri Lanka hosts a team of technical experts from the office of UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay.

Pillay's team's visit is a direct result of the March resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, moved by the US and backed by India.

The team is expected to offer technical assistance to Sri Lanka for implementation of the LLRC's recommendations.

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