US envoy to press Sri Lanka over alleged war crimes

August 26, 2011 (AFP) – The United States is dispatching a top envoy to Colombo for talks next week ahead of a crucial UN meeting to discuss alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, diplomats said on Friday. US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake will be visiting Sri Lanka for a second time in four months to discuss alleged war crimes in the final stages of the conflict that crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, diplomats said.

“He will meet with government officials, civil society representatives, university students and political leaders while in Sri Lanka,” the US State Department said in a statement.

Blake, the top US diplomat for South and Central Asia who also served as an ambassador to Sri Lanka, has urged President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government to set up a “credible” system to punish wartime rights violations in order to escape international censure.

“He has already made it clear that Sri Lanka risks an international probe unless it starts a credible internal process to investigate the allegations,” a diplomatic source said.

The announcement of Blake’s visit came after Rajapakse announced Thursday that he would scrap draconian emergency laws imposed nearly 30 years a