Sri Lanka tells Condoleezza Rice that the government working to obtain a consensus for political reforms
By Walter Jayawardhana
Washington, 17 March, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was working hard to obtain a consensus of the majority of Sri Lankans living in the South to develop constitutional reforms that would address the concerns of the minorities.
He said the current military operations undertaken in the Eastern Province by the government were purely taken up to prevent the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from taking military advantage using the cover of the ceasefire.
The Sri Lanka Embassy issuing a statement after the State Department meeting said, “Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama today told U.S. Secretary of State; Dr. Condoleezza Rice that the government of Sri Lanka was committed to a negotiated solution to the conflict and that military operations undertaken in the East of Sri Lanka were intended to prevent the LTTE from taking militarily advantage using the cover of the ceasefire and convince the LTTE that it could not expect to win on the battle field.”
The statement further said, “The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was fully committed to evolving a consensus in the South and developing necessary constitutional reforms to enable an enduring settlement to the present conflict that would address the concerns of the minorities.
“The Minister met Secretary of State this afternoon at the State Department. The meeting was preceded by a discussion with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador Nicholas Burns. During his three day visit to Washington, Minister Bogollagama also held meetings with members of the Administration including White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and Under Secretary for Terrorism & Financial Intelligence Stuart Levy, Deputy under Secretary of Defence for Asia & Pacific Security Affairs Ambassador Richard Lawless and Deputy US Trade Representative Karan K. Bhatia.
“In his meeting with Secretary Rice, the Minister who detailed the painstaking manner in which the Government had set about evolving a consensus in the South with the involvement of all the political parties to solve the problem, said that SLFP was on the verge of announcing their proposal, and that deliberations within the APRC can be expected to be concluded by April.
“In response to concerns expressed by the American side, Minister Bogollagama said that the government was very concerned about allegations of human rights abuses and had set in motion mechanisms for addressing these concerns including establishing a Commission of Inquiry and an international group of eminent persons who would ensure transparency and impartiality in the investigations.
“On recent displacement of civilians in the East, the Minister stressed that these are of a temporary nature. He said the government was clearing up the LTTE presence which threatens security and living conditions of the people in this area. He said immediate action will be taken for rehabilitation and resettlement of such persons, as demonstrated earlier in Muttur and Vahara.
“Minister Bogollagama added that the Sri Lanka Government was deeply appreciative of the continuing support extended by the U.S. towards Sri Lanka’s efforts to defeat terrorism. He sought greater vigilance and greater action by the United States law enforcement authorities in countering front organizations of the LTTE and preventing those responsible for funding the LTTE in the U.S.
“Associated with Minister Bogollagama at this meeting were Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the US, Bernard Goonetilleke, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, and others. . US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steven Mann and Sri Lanka Desk Officer Molly Gower were associated with Secretary Rice.”
- Asian Tribune -