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US nominee says Sri Lanka must help Tamils

June 17, 2009

AFP – US nominee says Sri Lanka must help Tamils

Sri Lanka needs to reach out to its Tamil minority and improve conditions for hundreds of thousands of displaced after defeating Tiger rebels, the nominee to be the next US ambassador said Tuesday.

Patricia Butenis, testifying in a Senate confirmation hearing, said she would also press Sri Lanka to bring to justice those responsible for extrajudicial killings and attacks on the media.

“Our main message to the Sri Lankan government is don’t lose this opportunity,” said Butenis, a career diplomat who was recently deputy chief of mission in Baghdad and has been ambassador to Bangladesh.

“The focus is to have the Tamil population understand that they have a future in their own country, in a unified Sri Lanka, and that the government itself has to appreciate that and work with the international community, I think, a little bit more than it has to date.”

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