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Obama aides in Colombo to talk human rights, war crimes

Two high-ranking advisors of US President Barack Obama arrived in Colombo on Monday night to discuss reconciliation and accountability with the Sri Lankan leadership.

world Updated: Jun 15, 2010 22:10 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Two high-ranking advisors of US President Barack Obama arrived in Colombo on Monday night to discuss reconciliation and accountability with the Sri Lankan leadership.

Samantha Power, special assistant to Obama on multilateral affairs and human rights, and David Pressman, national security council director for war crimes and atrocities met President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday.

The Rajapaksa administration has been under international pressure, especially from the US, European Union and UN, to allow an international probe into allegations of large-scale human rights violations as the war between Tamil seperatists and government troops came to an end in May, 2009.

``The visit aims to continue last month’s productive dialogue between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, in which both leaders discussed Sri Lanka’s path through economic renewal, accountability, and reconciliation to greater peace, prosperity, and a stronger partnership with the United States,’’ a US Embassy statement said.

Their visit coincides with the arrival of B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs with the UN, to see the progress in resettlement of the internally displaced, and discuss political reconciliation and human rights.

Pascoe is also scheduled to hold talks with Rajapaksa, senior government officials and opposition representatives, as well as Tamil leaders and civil society groups during the two-day visit. The UN is setting up a panel of experts as part of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law following last year’s end to the civil war.

Also to arrive in Colombo on Tuesday on his 20th visit was Japanese special envoy Yasushi Akashi, who will urge government officials and representatives of the opposition for the early resettlement of the displaced people, the Japanese Embassy in Colombo said. Akashi will also seek swift progress in the political process for national reconciliation.