Clinton backs ‘just, democratic’ Sri Lanka

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2011 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced hope for a “just and democratic” Sri Lanka as she offered congratulations ahead of the war-torn island’s Independence Day on Friday. Clinton said in a statement Wednesday that the United States and Sri Lanka have historically enjoyed “a strong relationship based on mutual interests and a shared commitment to the ideals of democratic governance.”

“We hope to continue our efforts to strengthen this relationship by assisting in post-war reconciliation to bring about a peaceful, prosperous, just and democratic future for all its citizens,” Clinton said.

Sri Lanka’s relations with the United States were strained in 2009 when Washington voiced concern about human rights as the army killed the top leadership of the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending decades of insurgency.

After urgings by the Tamil diaspora, a number of US lawmakers have pushed President Barack Obama’s administration to take a harder line on Sri Lanka, such as supporting an international probe into the 2009 violence.

The United Nations has said that at least 7,000 civilians perished in the final months of fighting, while international rights groups have put the to