News Update :

USA Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks With Sri Lankan

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The U.S. says Sri Lanka presented a "serious and comprehensive" plan of reconciliation in the island nation, foreign media reports said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday met Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Peiris GM, seeking to improve relations strained by U.S. pressure for an investigation into alleged war crimes.

Clinton and other U.S. officials have raised the issue Friday. It was not immediately clear how Sri Lanka has responded, but the spokesman for the State Department said Victoria Nuland Peiris presented a good plan on the implementation of the recommendations of the lessons learned and Reconciliation Commission made in December.

The United States sponsored a resolution adopted by the Council for Human Rights United Nations in March, urging Sri Lanka to probe reports of thousands of civilian deaths in the last months of the conflict that ended in 2009 when the Battle of the Tamil rebels for an independent state was crushed by the army of Sri Lanka.

Clinton urged transparency in the implementation of the plan and probe war crimes allegations, "to strengthen reconciliation, public confidence in and outside Sri Lanka, and, frankly, to accelerate healing the country. "

She stressed the importance of the demilitarization of the former conflict zones in northern Sri Lanka, the provincial elections, he and protection of human rights and promoting civil society.

Clinton and Peiris also spoke about the importance of US-Sri Lankan relations. Peiris referred to the excellent defense cooperation and the potential for strengthening economic ties.

Nuland said the U.S. was encouraged by the efforts of Sri Lanka to reduce its dependence on crude oil from Iran.

Meanwhile, the State Department has issued the following statement.

Notes from Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris before their meeting

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am very pleased to welcome Minister Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka. The United States strongly supports the process of reconciliation and reconstruction in Sri Lanka. We have very strong, important links between our two countries. We were encouraged to see the end of a long, bloody, terrible conflict, and we look forward to working with Sri Lanka, where they continue their commitment to a better future for all people. And the U.S. wants to be a supporting partner in these efforts. I look forward to fruitful conversation with the minister.


FOREIGN MINISTER PEIRIS: Well, it was exactly two years ago that I'm here at the invitation of Secretary of State, and I am delighted to be here on this occasion to have a broad discussion with the Secretary of State. During the interim period of two years, much has happened in my country, and by any standard, these developments represent a significant achievement.

We were able to complete 90 percent of work related to the resettlement of people who were displaced by the conflict, and there is also a very moving story in human terms as regards the ex-combatants who have all been rehabilitated . This includes 595 child soldiers - they all have been reintegrated into society after the benefit of exposure to vocational training programs that prepare them to earn a living.

The most striking developments have really been in the northern province of Sri Lanka, where the economy is growing by nearly 22 percent compared with the average for the rest of the island, which is about 8 percent. Now it is the result of an emphasis on infrastructure development to a degree that is not really (inaudible) at any other time in the history of the island.

It is, itself, the product of a deep conviction of ours that there is an intimate connection between reconciliation and economic development. We believe that any process of reconciliation must focus on realistic economic factors, there must be a certain level of contentment and economic well-being, and the emphasis on access to livelihood and income. These are essential aspects of a process of reconciliation. They are of paramount importance, although of course we are, at the same time, address other aspects of reconciliation, including land, language, which is a key to understanding other cultures, and it is also As I'm sure you would agree, a very powerful tool to prevent stratification of (inaudible) society. We are also tackling, in earnest, the constitutional reforms that are appropriate at this stage of political development and social development.

From the US State department daily press briefing

QUESTION: Do you have a readout on Secretary’s meeting with the Sri Lankan foreign minister this morning?

MS. NULAND: I do. Secretary met this morning for about 45 minutes with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Peiris. The foreign minister presented a very serious and comprehensive approach to the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission’s implementation and the plans that the government has, including plans to make it more public and accessible both to Sri Lankans and to those outside Sri Lanka, what the government intends to do in the implementation realm.

The Secretary encouraged a really transparent, open, public process, not only on the LLRC specifically and its implementation, but also with regard to accountability; to strengthen reconciliation, public confidence inside and outside Sri Lanka in the process; and frankly, to speed the healing of the country. So she really – she said good plan, now you really need to make it public; now you really need to show your people, the world, the concrete implementation steps going forward.

She also stressed the importance, as she always does, of demilitarizing the north; of getting to the provincial elections in the north; protection of human rights, including protection of the press; and generally the creation of an environment that’s inclusive; engagement and the creation of space for civil society along the lines of what she talked about globally earlier in the week.

They also had an exchange on Sri Lanka’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Iranian crude, and we are encouraged by the steps that Sri Lanka has taken.

QUESTION: Can we follow up there?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, please.

QUESTION: Did – on accountability, did she refer specifically to prosecuting war crimes at the end of the war – the 40,000 civilians who died?

MS. NULAND: This is precisely what we mean when we talk about accountability in all of it.

QUESTION: I know, but how specific did she get about that? I mean, did she ask for --

MS. NULAND: She’s spoken in general terms, and then there were separate meetings with the delegation that Bob Blake had, that Mike Posner had, to go through the details.

QUESTION: Would you say that the percentage of time they spent speaking is roughly the same as their public appearance – in the private meeting?


QUESTION: So it was roughly equal?

MS. NULAND: They were in public about 10 minutes and then they were in private about 35 minutes.

QUESTION: Well, of that – no I understand that.


QUESTION: But of that 10 minutes that they were in public, about eight and a half minutes was this foreign minister. Would you say that he dominated the private schedule?

MS. NULAND: No, no, no. It was a balanced conversation. No.


I think I should mention very briefly to another conviction of ours, that a reconciliation process, if it is to succeed, it must reflect sensitivity to the aspirations of our people. He must have a political system of thought. It is only then that the locals as a whole will be able to identify this process, which will then come alive in their hearts and minds.

Now we have right now, a very rich and multifaceted relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States. We have up to 5,000 students in U.S. universities. And there is excellent cooperation between our two governments in the field of defense. And only yesterday I had a very productive meeting in the office of U.S. Trade Representative, and the purpose of this meeting was to explore ways to build on the framework agreement for trade and investment which is in force between our two countries.

And I am convinced that today more than ever, with the return of stability and tranquility in our country, it is possible to develop more abundant on the relationship which is already very strong and vibrant. And that is why I am particularly pleased to be here today in Washington to meet with Secretary of State to have a frank discussion on the future of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the United States. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. Thank you all.
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