Sri Lanka urges US to tackle business, not just human rights

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2010 (AFP) – New Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris on Tuesday urged Washington to seize business and other opportunities in post-war Sri Lanka rather than focus only on alleged human rights abuses there. Visiting Washington after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s party won parliamentary elections last month, Peiris parried criticism from human rights activists and others amid a week of talks here to push for closer ties.

A year after the end of the civil war, “the circumstances are propitious for a certain strengthening and deepening of the relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States,” Sri Lanka’s chief diplomat said.

“We are not in anyway resentful of the focus on human rights. That is understandable. We are not complaining about it,” Peiris told a gathering hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

“But we are making the point that the relationship should not be one dimensional. There are many other things that Sri Lanka and the United States can do together,” he said.

Rajapakse has come under fire at home and abroad for allegedly violating human rights in the final military campaign against the Tamil rebels and of suppressing dissent si