Sri Lanka Warns US Envoy Designate
By Dinouk Colombage
The government has cautioned the United States’ Ambassador Designated to Sri Lanka, Michele Sison, regarding her opinion on the situation in the country.
Karunatilaka Amunugama, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, explained that the ministry was aware of her recent comments but would not be taking any action at this point in time.
He did add however, “If she is appointed as ambassador to Sri Lanka, and she continues to make such preconceived comments then the government will look at taking further action.”
Amunugama went on to say that at this point in time the government was only concerned about comments from the US State Department, and not an individual.
“I am confident that the ideas expressed by the ambassador designate and the US government are two different ideas,” he said.
Amunugama added that last month’s meeting between Peiris and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was a positive affair with the state department expressing satisfaction over the progress in Sri Lanka.
Sison told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Wednesday reconciliation is slow in Sri Lanka as human rights violations have not been investigated.
She went on to say that it was critical that the Sri Lankan government and the elected representatives of the Tamil community reach an agreement on devolution of power to provincial institutions in the north.
“The United States and other international partners have encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to pursue the steps needed to foster genuine reconciliation and accountability. Although the Government of Sri Lanka defeated the terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, serious allegations of violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by both sides at the end of the war remain to be investigated and have slowed reconciliation,” she said.
She also said that the United States recognizes the importance of maintaining a broad range of partnerships with Sri Lanka as we encourage a lasting, democratic peace in the country after nearly three decades of devastating conflict.
“Achieving genuine reconciliation will require Sri Lanka to take credible steps to ensure equality and justice for all Sri Lankans, particularly for those living in former conflict areas. Such steps include demilitarization of the former conflict zones, establishment of a mechanism to address cases of the missing and detained, and setting a date for provincial elections in the north,” she said.