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Sri Lanka denounces travel ban on army chief in meeting with US

The Sri Lankan government criticised a United States imposed travel sanction on the head of its army over reports of his involvement in war crimes and extrajudicial killings of Tamils more than a decade ago.

Sri Lanka reportedly summoned US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz for a meeting in Colombo on Sunday, where Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena “formally conveyed… Sri Lanka’s strong objections” on the ban placed on Shavendra Silva and his family.

“Noting that Lt. Gen. Silva was one of the senior military officials who contributed significantly to liberate Sri Lanka from terrorism over a decade ago, the Minister said it is disappointing that a foreign government should question the prerogative of a democratically elected President to call upon persons of proven expertise to hold key positions on national security related matters,” said a Sri Lankan press release.

The minister went on to denounce reports of mass atrocities committed by Sri Lankan troops despite several United Nations reports detailing the final military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils.

Colombo called the findings of one such UN report, the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report, “disputed” and claimed the “designation was not based on independently verified information”.

“Foreign Relations Minister asked that the United States Government review its decision,” concluded a press release.

Meanwhile a US embassy spokesperson told the Daily Mirror that the meeting “underscored the United States’ desire to continue building the U.S. - Sri Lanka relationship in mutually beneficial ways including around security issues”.

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