US officials discuss Sri Lankan situation with Tamil Diaspora
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Sri Lanka James Moore met with 16 representatives of U.S.-based organizations representing members of the Tamil diaspora to discuss the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and prospects for political reconciliation on August 11.
Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore welcomed the opportunity to listen to the concerns and perspectives of the American Tamil diaspora community and to share the steps the United States is taking to address the humanitarian crisis. The United States has provided $56 million in humanitarian assistance in 2009. While the Government of Sri Lanka has made some progress easing camp congestion, registering IDPs, and expanding access by humanitarian organizations, much remains to be done, Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore said. The United States is urging the safe and speedy return of IDPs, continued access for international humanitarian organizations, and the registration and provision of national identification cards to IDPs, to help promote freedom of movement.
Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore underscored the importance of political reconciliation. The U.S. has stressed to the government that to achieve a lasting peace, it must promote justice and political reconciliation for all parties, dialogue with all parties, including Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka on new mechanisms for devolving power, and improve human rights. Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore recommended that the Government of Sri Lanka and the American Tamil diaspora community seek opportunities to engage one another on political reconciliation and the reconstruction of Sri Lanka.
Assistant Secretary Blake and Chargé Moore concluded by saying that they would like to continue the dialogue with the diaspora community and urged participants to continue to share feedback.
The discussion took place at the State Department with Chargé Moore through a digital video conference at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.