A South African delegation called on Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, at the Ministry on Friday.
Minister Peiris gave the visiting South African delegation a comprehensive update on developments in Sri Lanka, in particular the progress which had been made with regard to resettlement of internally displaced persons, the re-integration into society of ex-combatants and the successful completion of de-mining operations.
He also described the economic revival in the Northern Province, largely in consequence of the emphasis on the development of infrastructure – especially highways, railroad systems and irrigation – in that part of the country.
The Minister provided detailed information with regard to structured implementation of recommendations contained in the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
A matter which received emphasis in the discussion was the importance of a home-grown solution if implementation is to be achieved. Reference was made to the crucial need for this element, as explained in persuasive terms in former South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, The Long March to Freedom. It was noted that South Africa, throughout its peace process, had consistently rejected foreign mediation or facilitation on the basis that it is the principal political forces in the country itself that have the deepest interest in arriving at a durable solution which has necessarily to be constructed in keeping with local sentiments and aspirations.
Mr. Roelf Meyer, former Minister of Defence and Minister of Constitutional Affairs of South Africa and Mr. Ebrahim Ebrahim, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation of the Republic of South Africa, who currently has an important role with regard to international affairs in the African National Congress, were central figures in the political negotiations between Frederick de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.
The South African delegation told Minister Peiris that they would be happy to render all assistance to Sri Lanka, drawing upon their own experience and insights. Prof. Peiris expressed appreciation of their friendship and goodwill.