US notes concern over Sri Lanka rights abuse

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Washington, Oct 5: US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns raised concern over reports of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka at a meeting with Sri Lanka's foreign minister, the US State Department said.

Burns and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama reviewed the human rights situation in Sri Lanka during a 45-minute State Department meeting, the department said in a statement. ''Burns welcomed progress in reducing abductions in Colombo.

However, he noted serious concern over credible reports of continued severe human rights abuses in Jaffna and other parts of the country and ongoing threats to freedom of the press,'' the statement said yesterday.

''Burns urged the government of Sri Lanka to do more to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations and to put an end to disappearances on the island nation,'' the statement said.

Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed or abducted in Sri Lanka since last year, when a civil war that has killed around 70,000 people since 1983 resumed after a near four-year lull. Some abuses have been blamed on state security forces.

Sri Lanka says the reports are overblown and designed to tarnish its image. It has slammed foreign governments and rights groups for the criticism.

Tamil Tiger rebels, widely outlawed as a terrorist organization, accuse the Sri Lankan government of waging a genocidal war against minority Tamils and say they have been isolated and have no forum to voice their views.

The State Department said Burns also urged Sri Lanka to make progress on a power-sharing proposal that would give a political voice to moderate Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese.


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