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Talks with TNA is a top priority for the United States

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Robert Blake is the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia. The below is extracted from his comments on May 4 at the American Centre in Colombo (see full transcript here).

The United States attaches great importance to the dialogue that is now taking place between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

The government and the TNA have conducted several rounds of talks with another round scheduled for May 12th. I hope that these talks can result in a comprehensive agreement that can help Sri Lanka heal the wounds of war and ensure that all Sri Lankans enjoy equal rights and a future of hope and opportunity.

We hope that that dialogue will result in a comprehensive agreement on all of the issues of concern to the Tamils.

That includes not only the very important issues regarding devolution, but also very sensitive issues like all of those who remain in detention, and a full accounting of who's in detention, but also a full accounting of the missing, the issuance of death certificates for those who may have died, so that there really can be closure for the families.

It involves such issues as land tenure and setting up a process to ensure that there can be fair arbitration for the many disputes about who actually owns some of the lands up in the north.

So I think there are a great many issues that still need to be addressed, and from what I heard today the Government is committed to doing that and is committed to a sincere dialogue with the TNA.

But again, the proof will be in results, not in promises. So we very much hope, again, that this will result in concrete progress towards the issues that I just discussed and the others that are of concern to the Tamils.

So this will remain a very high priority for the United States and I hope for the Government as well.

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