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China expresses support for Sri Lanka

Feb. 11, 2014 at 11:30 PM   |   Comments

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- China expressed support for Sri Lanka, which faces international pressure for alleged rights violations during its 2009 military campaign against Tamil rebels.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, apparently referring to U.S. plans to sponsor a third resolution on Sri Lanka's human rights record at the U.N. Human Rights Council next month, told a visiting Sri Lankan delegation that Beijing backs the Indian Ocean island nation's efforts safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"China opposes some countries' interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights issues," Wang said during his talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Gamini Lakshman Peiris, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Earlier this month while visiting Sri Lanka, Nisha Desai Biswal, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, expressed concern about the country's worsening human rights situation and its slow pace of progress in looking into alleged human rights violations during the 2009 Sri Lankan military campaign that ended the 26-year-old civil war against the Tamil separatists.

Biswal also said the United States planned to sponsor a third resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva next month. The resolution would be designed to pressure the Sri Lankan government to address the accountability issue.

The Sri Lankan government has denied allegations by human rights groups that thousands of civilians were killed during the 2009 military campaign.

On Monday, the European Union also decided to support a credible and independent investigation into the alleged violations.

Colombo Page said Sri Lanka has strongly rejected calls for an international investigation. The government says it already has a mechanism in place to address the accountability and right violation issues but that it needs more time to implement the measures recommended by its domestic mechanism.

In expressing China's support to Sri Lanka, Wang said: "We believe in the Sri Lankan people's wisdom and capacity to handle their own affairs."

Wang also called for increased maritime cooperation between China and Sri Lanka to build a 21st-century maritime silk road connecting the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.

Peiris noted China's assistance to Sri Lanka's economic and social development, and said his country supports the maritime silk road effort.

Colombo Page reported that the main focus of the discussion between the two countries was the elevation of the bilateral relationship to a strategic cooperative partnership, covering political cooperation, defense and security, economic relations, and cultural matters.

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