US Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry said that there are “still real challenges” in Sri Lanka and called on the newly led government to begin addressing issues such as human rights immediately. He said this answering a question from Pam Dockins of Voice Of America (VOA), at a press conference at the Vibrant Gujarat summit in India on 11 January 2015.
QUESTION: Thank you. A two-part question. First of all, later on in the week, you have talks withIran’s foreign minister ahead of the next round of nuclear talks. What are your expectations for the next round of talks? And, secondly, you spoke to the new President of Sri Lanka. What are your expectations for that country’s new government, given there has been so much criticism about human rights abuses in that country?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me take the second part of the question first. I did talk to the new president, and expressed our belief that the transfer of power took place in the way that we had hoped it would. I talked to the prior president, to his predecessor, only days ago about the importance of maintaining a peaceful process, no matter what.
And so, it is good that the people of Sri Lanka have been able to have an election that has been accepted, and which has resulted in a peaceful change of power. Now, that said, there are still real challenges in Sri Lanka, and we offered very immediately to engage in a dialogue to begin to work at guaranteeing that the problems with respect to human rights, the problems with inclusivity, challenges with respect to governance, are going to be addressed. And we will engage in that conversation from this moment forward, and hope that we can now forge a different outcome inSri Lanka. The election, hopefully, will become a demarcation point for a new moment, a new chapter, a new set of opportunities for the people ofSri Lanka, who have been challenged greatly by the absence of that kind of governance opportunity. And we are very hopeful that, in the days ahead, we can make some progress on all fronts. (State Govt)