Colombo: US secretary of state John Kerry on Saturday warned Sri Lanka that “true reconciliation" with Tamils will take time, even as he praised the “openness" of the new government in efforts to boost democracy, human rights and reaching out to the minority community.
“Peace has come but true reconciliation will take time," Kerry said while addressing the media following a bilateral meeting with Sri Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera after the top US diplomat landed in Colombo on Saturday on a two-day trip.
Kerry praised President Maithripala Sirisena’s new government for reaching out to the Tamil minority after the end of the nearly three-decade of ethnic conflict that claimed more than 100,000 lives.
“One thing which struck me was the readiness of this government to open its doors, to open its minds to different ideas," he said hailing “the enormous progress Sri Lanka has made in just a few months".
“You are working on creating an enduring peace and you are working on providing prosperity for all of your people," Kerry said. Since coming to power in January polls, Sirisena has vowed to pursue reconciliation more vigorously than his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was known for his hardline Sinhalese nationalism.
“Today, Sri Lanka is well on its way to becoming a fully-fledged parliamentary democracy, laying the foundations for a new Sri Lanka, built on the pillars of democracy and ethnic harmony." He said both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are not afraid taking “difficult decisions".
“They are willing to make difficult decisions and they are committed to keeping their promises," Kerry said. The US has noted Sri Lanka’s progress on restoring democracy and institutions for greater accountability through the nineteenth amendment, he said.
“There is progress on democratic institutions, progress on creating more accountable government, passage of (the) 19th amendment in which the president kept his promise to reduce powers of the presidency."