By Colombo Telegraph –
“In a September 24 meeting with Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on the margins of the UN General Assembly, SCA A/S Robert Blake stressed the urgent importance of resettling as many internally displaced persons (IDPs) as possible and providing them freedom of movement, and the urgency of beginning a political reconciliation process with the Tamil community, if we are to make progress in strengthening U.S.-Sri Lanka relations. Key to reconciliation is identifying an accountability process to help address past human rights abuses and potential violations of international law that may have transpired during the final stages of the military conflict with the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), Blake pressed.” US State Department wrote to US Embassy Colombo.
“Rajapaksa underlined his personal commitment to strengthening relations with the U.S. He said the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) is committed to resettling as many IDPs to their villages as quickly as possible, arguing that it is in the government’s political and security interests to do so, but the process is slowed by a lack of funding and demining equipment, inadequate infrastructure and housing in conflict-affected areas, and the continued presence of LTTE in the IDP camps. He maintained that people can leave the camps and regretted the perception that they are detained. He argued that people in the camps have nowhere else to go and have chosen to stay. He pointed to the Eastern Province as an example of a successful resettlement effort which, he stressed, took up to nine months. It has only been three months since the end of war, he emphasized. He sought to assure Blake of President Rajapaksa’s commitment to political reconciliation, but argued that the President needed to be cautious of political opponents who will seek to portray him as selling out the nation after the Army’s sacrifice and hard-won victory. Accountability ‘commissions’ at this stage, he told Blake, would tear the country apart, rather than promote reconciliation.” the US State Department further wrote.