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US puts Sri Lanka on notice over war crimes investigations

These are comments on Tuesday by US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland came in response to questions posed by Headlines Today television’s Washington correspondent Tejinder Singh.

Tejinder: In an interview with Headlines Today, Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Rajapaksa rejected calls from the UN, US, and international communities for a neutral international investigation into the war crimes.  And the top Sri Lankan diplomat today reiterated his stand. So what is the latest from the US for these people who are homeless and in the camps?
Nuland: Well, we have said repeatedly for a long time that we support a full and credible and independent investigation of alleged violations of international human rights and law and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka.  We want to see the Sri Lankans do this themselves in a way that meets international standards.  So what I would say to Sri Lankan critics [of international demands for accountability] is take your responsibility and mount an investigation that meets international standards.  And we continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to do just that and to do it quickly.  And we hope Sri Lankans will do this themselves. But if they do not, there’s going to be growing pressure from the international community for exactly the kind of international action that Sri Lankans say they don’t want.

Tejinder: During her visit last month, Secretary [Hillary] Clinton spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and said, to quote, “that the U.S. is looking at innovative and creative ideas,” unquote, to break the impasse, which is going on for people living in the camps and not able to go back home.  Can you update us on this?
Nuland: I’m not prepared today to go further than the Secretary went during her trip.  But again, if Sri Lankans want to take their responsibility to solve these issues themselves, then they need to do it and they need to do it quickly.

Tejinder: And another – just a last one.  Are you going to put a time period that you’re going to give the Sri Lankans?  Can it be 10 years, 20 years, or 10 months?

Nuland: I’m not going to speculate on timelines.

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