Meeting between the External Affairs Minister and the US Ambassador
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris invited the US Ambassador Ms. Patricia Butenis to meet with him on Tuesday, 21st December, in the context of news reports that several United States Senators and Members of Congress had addressed on the 10th of December, a letter concerning Sri Lanka to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Minister pointed out to the US Ambassador that the text of the letter as carried by the media, appears among other matters to assert that the effort of the Government of Sri Lanka through the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) lacks mandate and broad scope. The Minister noted that on the contrary, the Terms of Reference establishing the Commission expressly call for it to make recommendations to prevent recurrence of the inflicted strife of the past, while promoting further national unity and reconciliation among all communities. Accordingly, the Commission has the necessary amplitude for its effective functioning.
In fact the Minister added, the robust manner in which the LLRC is setting about its task is seen from its already having held 35 public sessions in Colombo. Additionally, it has met in the East in Trincomalee, in Mutur and in Kuchchaveli. In the North sessions have been held in Vavuniya, in Kilinochchi, in Mullaitivu and in Jaffna. While during the sessions in Colombo, over 85 persons have made representations, the public in the North and in the East were especially facilitated in presenting submissions, through the prior circulation of forms to enable the advance gathering of information.
Committee (IAC) chaired by the Attorney-General, to oversee and facilitate follow-up. Among the practical results stemming from the setting up of the IAC, is the establishment of an appropriate mechanism to which the Commission can now channel the complaints it receives for immediate investigation and remedial action, where so warranted.
Minister Peiris recalled to the US Ambassador that when he met Secretary of State Clinton in Washington on the 28th of May this year, the Secretary had observed with regard to the LLRC that “this Commission holds promise”. It is therefore important to allow the Commission the necessary space and time to accomplish its objectives. The Minister went on to express the hope that the US Embassy in Colombo and the State Department in Washington would convey to the Senators and Congressmen, the need to avoid being pushed by false propaganda towards the adoption of a pre-judgemental attitude.
The Minister discussed as well with the Ambassador the matter of the US Embassy communications put out into the public domain by the Wikileaks website. Prof. Peiris reiterated the stated position of his Ministry that Sri Lanka does not condone the act of putting in the public domain in an illegal manner, privileged and confidential information. He said that he is constrained however to point out that the purported cables do contain glaring instances of allegations totally unwarranted by the ground reality, being conveyed to Washington. As examples, the Minister cited the claims of children being sold into slavery, with the boys to work in camps and the girls to prostitution rings. The Minister emphasized that the conveying of such mendacious stories clearly fabricated to denigrate Sri Lanka, are totally negative to the objective of diplomacy, which is building bridges and promoting understanding. The Minister expressed the view that at least where future instances may be concerned, greater circumspection would be appropriate.
Ministry of External Affairs, Sri Lanka Press Statement