US envoy visits Sri Lanka’s former war zone

Image courtesy of Sanjeewa Dayarathne (www.Feedback.lk)

September 13, 2011 (AFP) – US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake toured Sri Lanka’s former war zone on Tuesday to meet students, community leaders and government officials two years after the island’s civil war ended.

Blake, the top US diplomat for South and Central Asia, was in the northern Jaffna region to see development work since the fighting ceased, a US embassy spokesman said without giving further details.

His visit to Sri Lanka comes as pressure grows at a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during the conflict.

Blake, who has also served as an ambassador to Sri Lanka, met with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse for talks on Monday in the capital Colombo.

The military’s defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 after decades of warfare has attracted accusations that both sides were guilty of atrocities in the final months of combat.

The UN Human Rights Council on Monday received a previously-released report from UN chief Ban Ki-moon that accused Sri Lankan troops of killing thousands of civilians in bombing attacks.

UN chief Ban has said that he alone cannot order an international inquiry into t