Sri Lanka's president accused the United States on Tuesday of unfairly singling out a government war commission for criticism after it cleared the military of deliberately targeting civilians during the country's civil war.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's office said he told newspaper editors that the U.S. is demanding that Sri Lanka immediately settle war accountability issues, while not criticizing other countries that have been much slower in dealing with similar post-conflict situations.
He said the commission made a wide range of recommendations for reconciliation but the U.S. only focused on the final days of the conflict.
The commission concluded last week that government forces did not target civilians toward the end of the war as alleged by human rights groups. On Monday, the U.S. State Department expressed concern that it had not fully addressed all allegations of serious violations.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the commission had made substantive recommendations on issues including reconciliation, devolution of power, demilitarization and disappearances. But she said it lacked a comprehensive plan to act on them and left open questions about accountability for alleged rights violations.
Earlier this year, a panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it found credible allegations of serious violations by both government troops and defeated Tamil Tiger rebels that could amount to war crimes. It said tens of thousands of people may have been killed.
Ethnic Tamil lawmakers criticized the report on Monday, saying it damaged the chances of genuine reconciliation between the country's embittered ethnic groups. They called for an international war crimes investigation.