Sri Lanka to mend fences with West: president

January 27, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president, who won a second term Wednesday, said he was keen to repair relations with Western nations that have been at odds with Colombo over its human rights record. President Mahinda Rajapakse said most of the “misunderstandings” between Colombo and Western nations stemmed from the island’s conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels, but the matter was now over.

Rajapakse said Sri Lanka was ready to address any concerns of “foreign friends” after security forces crushed Tamil rebels in May last year in a offensive mired in war crime allegations.

“We have a way forward,” he told reporters at his Temple Trees residence in Colombo. “Most of our misunderstandings were due to the fighting. It is over now. I am on my second (and final) term and we can work together to address any outstanding issues.”

Sri Lanka increasingly distanced itself from the West as it came under fire for its human rights record. It has built ties with China and Iran and last year hosted Myanmar’s reclusive military leader Than Shwe.

Rajapakse also rejected allegations made by some of his own lawmakers during his re-election campaign that Washington and Oslo had funded his opponent’s bid t