Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake met with 16 Sri Lankan-American community representatives, including representatives of U.S.-based Sri Lankan-American cultural and media organizations, to discuss the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and prospects for political reconciliation on October 9.
Assistant Secretary Blake welcomed the opportunity to listen to the concerns and perspectives of Sri Lankan-Americans and to share the steps the United States is taking to help address the humanitarian crisis and to promote the urgent need for national reconciliation. He reviewed the long friendship between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, noting that the United States has provided over $56 million in humanitarian assistance in 2009, including $6.6 million in demining assistance. While the Government of Sri Lanka has made some progress easing camp congestion, registering IDPs, and expanding access by humanitarian organizations, much remains to be done, Assistant Secretary Blake said. In particular, Assistant Secretary Blake emphasized the importance of the government allowing freedom of movement for IDPs.
Assistant Secretary Blake underscored the importance of political reconciliation. The U.S. has stressed to the government that to achieve a lasting peace, it must promote justice and political reconciliation for all parties and dialogue with all parties, including Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka, on new mechanisms for devolving power. The government must also seek to improve human rights and accountability. Assistant Secretary Blake recommended that Sri Lankan Americans seek opportunities to channel their resources and expertise toward supporting national reconciliation and the reconstruction of Sri Lanka.
Assistant Secretary Blake concluded by saying that he would like to continue the dialogue with the Sri Lankan-American community and urged participants to continue to share feedback.
The discussion took place at the State Department.
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