Blake says Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process is slow

Saturday, 22 January 2011 00:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

While post-war Sri Lanka has made significant progress in the economic front, its reconciliation process has not proceeded sufficiently, a former United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka said.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr., who was the Ambassador in Colombo from 2006 to mid-2009 said while Sri Lanka’s economy has thrived since the end of its brutal civil war that ended in May 2009, its reconciliation has proceeded more slowly.

He made these remarks addressing an audience at the Rice University in Houston, Texas Wednesday on the Obama Administration’s Priorities in South and Central Asia and its foreign policy.

While focusing more on Central Asia, Blake briefly discussed Nepal and Sri Lanka, both of which have ended long internal conflicts in the last few years and trying to secure peace now.

“I hope that the Government will act on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) it set up, as part of wider efforts that will be needed to help establish a lasting peace,” Blake said, referring to the Reconciliation Commission appointed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

President Rajapaksa appointed the LLRC to probe the events in the seven-year period prior to the conclusion of the war and report on the lessons to be learnt from those events.

The LLRC began sittings on 11 August 2010 and has conducted several public hearings. The President last November extended the Commission’s term until 15 May 2011.

The Commission has suggested several immediate administrative measures to ease the lives of resettled Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and all people living in the former war-battered areas and the government has appointed an inter-agency committee to carry out the suggested measures.

As the Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Blake is responsible for the region from Sri Lanka in the south to Kazakhstan in the north, from Maldives to Bhutan. A Special Representative handles the primary job of coordinating policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Describing Obama administration policy in the region, Blake said there were three primary objectives in the South and Central Asia region, namely to support international efforts in Afghanistan, build a strategic partnership with India and develop more durable and stable relations with the Central Asian countries.