Colombo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday underlined the need for dialogue among Sri Lanka's political stakeholders to achieve national reconciliation with the Tamil minority.
Abe, who became the first Japanese leader in 24 years to visit Sri Lanka made the point in a joint statement issued after bilateral talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
"The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of national reconciliation for the everlasting peace in Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country," the statement said.
Abe, while recognising the progress made so far, reiterated the importance of dialogue among all stakeholders for national reconciliation and further efforts to promote the implementation of the National Plan of Action on the recommendations of Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
Abe acknowledged the Sri Lankan leadership's steps towards reconciliation with the Tamil minority.
Earlier today, Abe landed here as the first Japanese prime minister to visit Sri Lanka in 24 years.
Abe, who is here on a two-day visit, was welcomed at the airport by Rajapaksa.
Immediately upon arrival, Abe joined Rajapaksa in launching the Japanese-funded second phase of development of the Bandaranaike International Airport here.
Abe's visit assumes significance as Japan has been keen to distance itself from Western nations who demand that Sri Lanka demonstrate accountability on alleged human rights violations during the country's three-decade civil war against the LTTE that ended in 2009.
The UN's human rights investigation is underway despite Sri Lanka's stance of non-cooperation with the probe.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March ordered an international investigation into charges that Sri Lanka's security forces killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians during the final phase of the civil war.
Japan, the largest single foreign aid donor to Sri Lanka, remained neutral at the UNHRC session in March that voted to set up the war crimes probe.
Japan backs Sri Lanka's view that reconciliation with the Tamil minority can only be achieved through an internal mechanism without external pressures.
The Japanese leader is accompanied by a large business delegation. Abe arrived from Bangladesh as part of a regional tour aimed at increasing trade and offsetting bitter rival China's rising influence in the subcontinent.