Sri Lanka reconciliation panel ‘holds promise:’ Clinton

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2010 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday the Sri Lankan postwar reconciliation panel “holds promise” as she pressed for it to have enough powers to pursue claims of wartime atrocities.

“I think this commission holds promise and we hope and expect that it will fulfill that promise,” Clinton said during a press briefing with new Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris.

Peiris is on a visit to Washington to promote business opportunities in his country a year after troops of the Sinhalese-led government defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending a decades-old civil war.

He was named to the post earlier this month after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s party won parliamentary elections last month.

Rajapakse has come under fire at home and abroad for allegedly violating human rights in the final military campaign against the rebels and of suppressing dissent since his resounding re-election victory in January.

On May 5, the state-run Daily News newspaper reported that Colombo plans to set up a reconciliation commission to foster ethnic unity as the island emerges from nearly four decades of bloody conflict but gave few details.