U.S. to work with Sri Lanka on U.N. resolution addressing alleged war crimes

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2015 5:21 AM

By Shihar Aneez

COLOMBO (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it would work together with Sri Lanka's new government to propose a resolution to a U.N. human rights forum that seeks to come to terms with the painful legacy of a 26-year civil war.

Washington will move the resolution, to address responsibility for alleged human rights abuses and propose a framework for reconciliation, at next month's U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

"We have recognized that there is a different opportunity that exists today and a different landscape for trying to advance reconciliation," Nisha Biswal, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs, told reporters in Colombo. "We look forward to a process in Geneva that allows an opportunity to reflect on that."

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led Sri Lanka in the final years of the Tamil insurgency, lost a presidential election in January and failed in his bid to come back as prime minister in the Aug. 17 polls.

The election strengthened President Maithripala Sirisena, a reformist leader who has taken steps to reconcile Sri Lankan Tamils with majority Sinhala speakers, many of whom still regard Rajapaksa as a national hero.

Biswal said the thrust of the resolution would be decided after reviewing the findings of a UN investigation into war crimes alleged to have been committed in the final phase of the civil war that ended in May 2009.

The UN has previously estimated that the final offensive ordered by Rajapaksa claimed the lives of around 40,000 Tamil civilians.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Nick Macfie)