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Sri Lankan president arrives in New York for UN General Assembly

Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena arrived at New York today, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly and meet with senior officials this week.

Sirisena told reporters last week that during his visit he will ask the United Nations not pursue accountability for war crimes committed by Sri Lankan troops and will instead call on the Human Rights Council to “remove these charges”.

He is being accompanied on the visit by Sri Lankan ministers Rajitha Senaratne, Champika Ranawaka and Mano Ganeshan.

Sri Lanka has failed to fully implement a 2015 Human Rights Council resolution, that it co-sponsored. The resolution called for an international accountability mechanism to be set up which included foreign judges and prosecutors. However, Sirisena and other senior Sri Lankan leaders have repeatedly spoken out against the resolution and vowed to protest Sri Lankan troops from charges of war crimes.

Tens of thousands of Tamils were killed by the Sri Lankan military as it launched a massive military offensive which ended in 2009. Several UN reports have since concluded that widespread human rights violations were committed including the shelling of hospitals, sexual violence and the execution of surrendering Tamils.