Progress Call

December 9, 2009 (AFP) – The United States said Wednesday it was willing to extend more aid to Sri Lanka provided there was progress in political reconciliation and human rights. He commended the government’s efforts to allow war-displaced civilians to leave state-run welfare camps in the north at their own free will and said Sri Lanka appeared to be on track to resettle some 288,000 people by end January. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake commended Sri Lanka’s progress to resettle thousands of civilians displaced by ethnic conflict, but said “much more” needs to be done to bring lasting unity.

“An important element of reconciliation is safeguarding and protecting the rights of all Sri Lankans,” Blake told reporters in Colombo after meetings with the president and senior government officials.

Blake said a lot of American military assistance was cut off due to Colombo’s human rights record in the weeks leading up to the end of the conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels in May.

“Now with the war over, there is less abductions, extra judicial killings have come down. But there is much more to be done, especially in the areas of press freedom