Sunday, June 5, 2011

US renews pressure on Sri Lanka

SATURDAY, 04 JUNE 2011 17:12

The United States said on Saturday it remained 'deeply concerned' about alleged Sri Lankan war crimes as it distanced itself from a junior US military officer who questioned the credibility of the accusations against Sri Lanka.

The US government rejected an invitation to attend a seminar hosted by Sri Lanka earlier in the week to showcase its success in crushing Tamil separatists by May 2009.

However, the US defence attache in Colombo, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Smith, attended the seminar as an 'observer' and his remarks there were his own 'opinion", the US state department said in a statement received in Colombo.

Lt Smith told the seminar that the credibility of rebel surrender claims was in doubt and he appeared to contradict a Western allegation that Sri Lankan troops killed surrendering rebels.

A key charge in a recently compiled UN report accuses Sri Lanka of executing Tiger political leaders who are said to have worked out a surrender deal through Western diplomats, including those of the United States in Colombo.

Lt Smith told the seminar in Colombo that offers of surrender came from the 'mouthpieces' of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whose words had not demonstrated any control over the leadership. 

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