|Chief priest at the Kelaniya Temple, Kollupitiya Mahinda Sangharakkhita Mahathera blesses U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the temple in Colombo on Saturday.(Reuters)|
Need to explore a domestic mechanism that meets international standards.
The reconciliation agenda was the highlight of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s discussions with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other leaders on Saturday.
Mr. Kerry, who was the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Sri Lanka in recent years, particularly after the end of the Eelam War-IV in May 2009, later told journalists: “peace has come. But, true reconciliation will take time.”
- ‘A difficult task’
Terming reconciliation as “a very difficult task,” Mr. Kerry said he urged the Sri Lankan government to work with the International Red Cross and United Nations “to investigate the missing persons’ cases and search for answers, wherever they may lead and however painful in some cases the truth may be.”
In a talk delivered earlier at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies, he told the audience, which included a host of leaders across the political spectrum, that “you all have borne the cost of war. Now, it is time for you to experience, hold on to matters of peace.”
He expressed the hope that the government would continue to “cooperate with United Nations to explore the best way for a “credible domestic investigation into the allegations of human rights” with the process of investigation meeting “international standards.”
To a query, Mr. Kerry said the United States was not interested to ask Sri Lanka to align with anyone. “We welcome strong relationship” between Sri Lanka and any other country with which Sri Lanka wanted to have relationship. What the U.S. had done was to offer suggestions, not to demand, the Secretary of State added.
- Praise for leadership
Earlier, he praised the Sri Lankan leadership for its commitment to “constitutional and democratic reforms. He told journalists at the office of the Foreign Affairs Ministry here that what impressed him the most was the “readiness of this government to open its doors and open its mind to different ideas.”
President Maithirpala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samarweera were “wiling to make difficult decisions” and were committed to “keeping their promises,” he said.