External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday said the visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore had an excellent opportunity to compare the situation in Sri Lanka as he was based in Colombo during eelam war IV.
Moore was Deputy Chief of Mission from 2006 to 2009 and headed the mission during the absence of the then Ambassador Patricia Butenis.
Prof. Peiris was addressing the visiting delegates, Moore and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jane Zimmerman and Ambassador Michele J. Sison, who succeeded Butenis.
The minister pointed out that since the conclusion of the conflict there had been a tremendous change, with the country making rapid progress in the resettlement of internally displaced persons, reintegration of the ex-combatants, de-mining and reviving the northern economy.
The visiting delegation had acknowledged the significant progress made since the end of the conflict. The minister said that economic wellbeing of the north would be of pivotal importance in ongoing reconciliation efforts. The government had focused its attention on the economic revival of the northern region, with substantial investment made on the infrastructure development.
Prof. Peiris reiterated the government’s commitment for an early resumption of talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), while highlighting the importance of the TNA joining proposed parliamentary select committee on constitutional reforms. Prof. Peiris said that it had to be an all-inclusive process. The minister pointed out that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), too, had recommended the PSC on constitutional reforms.
Replying to a section of the international community targeting the GoSL, Prof. Peiris asserted that excessive pressure would be counterproductive. The minister said that the success of the domestic healing process would depend on the country being given time and space to continue the ongoing domestic process.
The minister reiterated the call for a level playing field while pointing out that all countries should be treated with dignity.
The minister explained that the GoSL had always engaged with the UN and cooperated fully with the world body, hence there was no need to apply pressure. Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga had briefed the Colombo based diplomatic representatives about three weeks ago and another briefing was scheduled for third week of February, the minister said.
Rather than internationalize the issue, and overshadow the local process the country should be given time to complete the reconciliation process that has seen tremendous progress.