Ban’s report: Top Indian team rushes to Colombo

By Our Political Editor

A high powered Indian delegation will arrive in Colombo on Friday to discuss matters arising from the United Nations Advisory Panel’s report to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the separatist war in May 2009.

It will comprise National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Ministry Secretary Pradeep Kumar. The visit has assumed greater significance since India has not been ready to accept a similar three-member delegation from Sri Lanka before early June. Such a team to New Delhi was to comprise Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. In addition, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris is due to visit New Delhi on May 16 for a meeting with his counterpart, S.M. Krishna.

The Indian delegation members are expected to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa besides talking to their Sri Lankan counterparts. A priority for the visiting Indian delegation, the Sunday Times learns, is to urge the government to speedily address accountability and reconciliation issues raised in the UN Panel’s report. The Panel comprised Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Steven Ratner (United States).

A similar request was also made to the government by US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs, Robert Blake. During a visit to Sri Lanka, he held talks with External Affairs Minister Peiris. Blake also met representatives of opposition political parties and leading NGOs in Colombo.

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