Japan urges Sri Lanka to engage international community

June 11, 2009 (AFP) – Japan on Thursday urged Sri Lanka to develop closer ties with the international community as Colombo tries to rebuild the war-battered north of the island after decades of bloody ethnic conflict. Akashi said international opinion was divided on the way the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended, and why so many casualties took place during the final stages of the nearly four-decade conflict.

The LTTE was accused of holding tens of thousands of Tamil civilians as human shields, but government troops were also accused of indiscriminately shelling rebel-held areas packed with civilians. Yasushi Akashi, a peace envoy for Tokyo, Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor, said the government in Colombo needed to engage in a “continuous dialogue with the international community”.

“Sri Lanka needs and deserves more fruitful two-way dialogue with the international community with as many countries as possible as well as with the UN and other organisations,” he said.

In recent months Colombo has angrily fended off criticism of its massive offensive against the Tamil Tigers, including allegations that government troops killed thousands of civilians before it defeated the separat