US raises concern at Sri Lanka rights abuses

May 8, 2007 (AFP) – The United States is to raise concerns about human rights in Sri Lanka during a state visit that follows international concern over extra-judicial killings, diplomats said Tuesday. US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who was due to arrive later Tuesday, will hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse, addressing the island’s situation, the US embassy said.

“Ambassador Boucher will discuss the peace process, humanitarian issues, and human rights with President Rajapakse, government ministers, senior military officials, and civil society leaders in Colombo and Jaffna,” it said.

Boucher’s visit follows an announcement that Britain will freeze debt relief offered to its former colony unless Sri Lanka addresses human rights concerns.

During his trip, Boucher is expected to travel to the embattled northern peninsula of Jaffna where 350,000 civilians and 40,000 government troops have lived under siege since the only road was closed in August.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched an abortive assault on the peninsula on August 11, prompting the military to shut land access to the region.

Jaffna is now supplied through risky air an