Washington, March 27 (IANS) The United States has suggested that the international community work with India to encourage progress on the Sri Lankan issue as New Delhi “has quite a lot of influence on the island”.
Washington had worked very closely with India in the run-up to last week’s passage of an American-backed resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council pressing Colombo to investigate the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in the final stages of the civil war with the Tamil Tigers, according to America’s pointsman for South Asia.
“Well let me just say with respect to India that we worked very closely with India throughout the process and we indeed welcomed some of the changes that India made,” Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake told the BBC Sinhala Service after the passage of the resolution last Friday.
“So we were quite satisfied with the cooperation that we had with India, and I think going forward it will be very important for all of the international community to continue to work with India to encourage progress, since India has quite a lot of influence on the island,” he said.
Asked if India had proposed any amendments at the last moment, Blake, according to the transcript of the interview released by the State Department Tuesday, said: “As I said, we consulted closely throughout the entire process.”
Denying a suggestion that the original US draft was pretty much toned down at the last moment because of Indian influence, he said: “I reject that premise. I don’t think that it was toned down in any way.”
“I think it remains a very fair and balanced text that again …underlines the importance of Sri Lanka now taking meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability in order to move forward to achieve peace and prosperity on the island.”
The US official said: “It’s very important now that again, forward progress be made on important issues like holding elections for the Northern Provincial Council that have been promised for September of this year.”
It was also “important that they move forward on the dialogue with the Tamil National Alliance to achieve an agreement on devolution”, as also “address a lot of the serious human rights concerns that many people on the island have identified”.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])