Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal, addressing the press on U.S. foreign policy priorities in South and Central Asia at the Foreign Press Center on 3 Dec said “We want to support the rights of ethnic minorities and religious minorities in all of these countries and marginalized communities. And we continue to stress the importance of political reconciliation in countries that have been plagued with civil conflict, such as Sri Lanka.’
Answering a questions from Matthew Pennington of the Associated Press on Sri Lanka:
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BISWAL: Yes.
QUESTION: During the Commonwealth heads of government summit recently, the British prime minister effectively sort of set a deadline saying that he wanted to see progress on accountability issues of alleged war crimes by March, or he would seek a UN-backed commission of inquiry or something of that nature. Does the U.S. support that position and do you think it’s appropriate to set a deadline like that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BISWAL: The United States and really all of our friends across the international community have underscored the need for Sri Lanka to make progress on issues of reconciliation, on issues of accountability, and on issues of human rights, ongoing concerns about the political space and human rights in the country. And we are committed to working with our friends in Sri Lanka to see that progress. We would like to see Sri Lanka address these issues through its own processes, and we hope that that can, in fact, be the case.
I think that the patience of the international community, if real progress is not seen, particularly on issues of accountability, that patience will start to wear thin. And so we urge our friends in Sri Lanka to use the opportunity to show some concrete steps that their own processes have yielded. Through the LLRC, there are a set of recommendations. I think that those are exactly the points that we’d like to see progress on and we’d encourage them to do that.