Min. Mangala Samaraweera meets with UN chief in New York

Min. Mangala Samaraweera meets with UN chief in New York

Written by Bella Dalima

14 Feb, 2015 | 8:48 pm

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, Feb. 13.

Reuters quotes U.N. diplomatic sources as saying that the Minister had pressed his government’s desire to delay the release of a U.N. report on alleged war crimes during his country’s civil war.

According to Reuters, the United Nations Press Office said that during the meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Ban Ki-moon had discussed “critical priorities for Sri Lanka, including especially human rights, accountability and reconciliation,”.

Reuters goes on to say that the U.N. read-out of the meeting said nothing about Colombo’s desire for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to delay the March 25 release of the war crimes report.

According to Reuters, Samaraweera had raised the issue behind closed doors with Ban on Friday, stressing the importance of a delay. Quoting a source at the U.N., Reuters says that for his part, Ban had made it clear this was an issue for Zeid, the Geneva-based U.N. human rights boss.

Diplomats said that Samaraweera has used his trip to the United States to persuade U.S. and U.N. officials of the importance of delaying the report.

Meanwhile, responding to a question raised on the request to delay the report, Jen Psaki , spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said that the is a matter for the UN High Commissioner to determine.

Question : The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister saying earlier this week that the UN sort of delay its report on human rights. You said you will be speaking about it after the meeting…

US State Department , Spokesperson Jen Psaki replied;

The Secretary reiterated support for the new government and its 100-day plan. He also underscored the United States and international commitment to accountability and reconciliation after nearly 30 years of war, and expressed ongoing support for a Sri Lanka that is peaceful, democratic, prosperous, inclusive, and unified. In terms of the topic of the UN report, they discussed during their meeting, as I referenced, a range of bilateral and regional issues, including this issues – this issue. The United States, our focus and the focus of our partners in the international community is supporting accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We’re determining the best way forward to address these issues. Obviously, it was discussed yesterday, but this is a matter for the UN High Commissioner to determine. We have absolute confidence in him and in this process.

Question: But would you like the UN to delay the report?

US State Department , Spokesperson Jen Psaki replied;

Again, we’re going to keep these conversations with the Sri Lankans and with the UN private.

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said that it was remarkable to see the change in the human rights climate in Sri Lanka following the elections last month. She made this statement in a post on Twitter following her meeting with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, which she said was “encouraging”.

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