FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS SRI LANKA WAS COMMITTED
TO A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama today told
U.S. Secretary of State; Dr. Condoleezza Rice that the government
of Sri Lanka was committed to a negotiated solution to the conflict
and that military operations undertaken in the East of Sri Lanka
were intended to prevent the LTTE from taking militarily advantage
using the cover of the ceasefire and convince the LTTE that it
could not expect to win on the battle field. The government of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was fully committed to evolving a
consensus in the South and developing necessary constitutional
reforms to enable an enduring settlement to the present conflict
that would address the concerns of the minorities.
The Minister met Secretary of State this afternoon
at the State Department. The meeting was preceded by a discussion
with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador
Nicholas Burns. During his three day visit to Washington, Minister
Bogollagama also held meetings with members of the Administration
including White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley,
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and Under Secretary for
Terrorism & Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey, Deputy under
Secretary of Defence for Asia & Pacific Security Affairs Ambassador
Richard Lawless and Deputy US Trade Representative Karan K. Bhatia.
In his meeting with Secretary Rice, the Minister
who detailed the painstaking manner in which the Government had
set about evolving a consensus in the South with the involvement
of all the political parties to solve the problem, said that SLFP
was on the verge of announcing their proposal, and that deliberations
within the APRC can be expected to be concluded by April.
In response to concerns expressed by the American
side, Minister Bogollagama said that the government was very concerned
about allegations of human rights abuses and had set in motion
mechanisms for addressing these concerns including establishing
a Commission of Inquiry and an international group of eminent
persons who would ensure transparency and impartiality in the
On recent displacement of civilians in the East,
the Minister stressed that these are of a temporary nature. He
said the government was clearing up the LTTE presence which threatens
security and living conditions of the people in this area. He
said immediate action will be taken for rehabilitation and resettlement
of such persons, as demonstrated earlier in Muttur and Vaharai.
Minister Bogollagama added that the Sri Lanka
Government was deeply appreciative of the continuing support extended
by the U.S. towards Sri Lanka’s efforts to defeat terrorism.
He sought greater vigilance and greater action by the United States
law enforcement authorities in countering front organizations
of the LTTE and preventing those responsible for funding the LTTE
in the U.S.
Associated with Minister Bogollagama at this
meeting were Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the US, Bernard Goonetilleke,
Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, Director General/ Public Communications
of the Foreign Ministry, Ravinatha Aryasinha and Media Advisor
to the Foreign Minister Lalith de Silva. US Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Steven Mann and Sri Lanka Desk Officer Molly Gower were
associated with Secretary Rice.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
16 March 2007