Sri Lankan minister seeks Japanese aid, rejects rights probe

TOKYO, June 3, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s trade minister on Wednesday sought Japan’s help for its recovery from ethnic conflict, while reiterating his government’s rejection of any probe into alleged human rights violations. Colombo has faced allegations that thousands of civilians perished in the final battle last month against Tamil Tiger separatists, as the island starts its recovery from three decades of fighting.

“We have talked to the Japanese government about direct Japanese government assistance to resuscitate economic activities,” Gamini Lakshman Peiris told a news conference.

The minister said his country hopes Japan — Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor and the holder of two-thirds of its foreign debt — will help revive agriculture, tourism, fisheries and small enterprises in particular.

Peiris earlier held talks with his Japanese counterpart Toshihiro Nikai and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

At the news conference, the former chief negotiator in the country’s peace process reiterated that Colombo has no plan to probe allegations that thousands of civilians died.

Asked if the Sri Lankan government is eventually willing to accept an international probe, Peiris said: “No, we don’t r