US wants to take ties with Sri Lanka forward: Blake

Robert Blake heads to Sri Lanka to encourage a full accounting over its civil war.

Washington: Making his first visit to Sri
Lanka since the release of a UN panel`s report on alleged
human rights violations there, the Obama administration`s
pointman for South and Central Asia Robert Blake has said the
US wants to take forward its ties with Colombo.

Blake, who left on a five day trip to Sri Lanka and
Maldives yesterday, said he would keep his message to the
government in Colombo "private" till he actually delivers it.

"In general we want to move forward on our relations
with Sri Lanka," he told a news agency before leaving for Colombo.

Blake is the first top US official to visit Sri Lanka
after the recent release of a UN advisory panel`s report on
violations of human rights during the last phase of the LTTE

"Although everybody is very focused on the panel of
experts report... I want to discuss full range of issues on
our agenda," he said, adding that he is very much looking
forward to have an opportunity to travel to the north of the
country, which was once controlled by the LTTE, for the
first time ever in his career.

Blake was the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, before
being appointed as the Assistant Secretary of State for South
and Central Asia.

He will visit USAID-supported programmes and meet local
leaders in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, which were strongholds
of LTTE during the civil war.

"These were formally LTTE controlled areas, when I was
there, so I have never actually seen those cities," he

From Sri Lanka, Blake would be travelling to
Maldives, where he did not get a chance to visit while he was
stationed in Colombo.

"I want to first go and thank Maldives for all the
cooperation that they have provided in the UN ... where they
have shown quite a lot of leadership, but also again to talk
about our mutual interest in things like counter-piracy and
counter-terrorism and again ways we can work together," he

Maldives is a small but very important country for
United States, Blake said.


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