Sri Lanka needs home-grown path to peace: Minister
Washington, May 16 (IANS) Sri Lanka will achieve lasting peace only through "home grown solutions", not those prescribed by the international community, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris has said.
Peiris was speaking Tuesday with key US Senate leaders and also gave a talk on Sri Lanka's post-conflict redevelopment and reconciliation programmes.
Nearly three years to the day that Sri Lanka crushed the Tamil Tigers, Peiris highlighted Sri Lanka's accomplishments at a Washington think-tank, the Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Scholars.
"We realize that the (political) process that we have in mind must be a domestic process," a Sri Lankan embassy statement here quoted him as saying.
"It can't be donor-driven or foreign-owned. That will be unhelpful in implementing the reforms that are required at this moment in history.
"At the end of the day, the solution that everyone wants has got to have a home-grown element to it."
Peiris said Sri Lanka's immediate goal after the conflict was the resettlement of those displaced by the fighting and economic development to provide livelihood and new infrastructure to the island's north.
The north, he pointed out, was "devastated by the atrocities of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).
"Ninety-eight percent of the people who were displaced by the conflict have been resettled," Peiris said.
"And they have not just been returned to their homes. We have seen to it that resettlement has occurred in an environment of confidence and satisfaction."
Nearly all ex-LTTE combatants have also been returned to civil society after job and education training, he said.
"We believe in reconciliation, but economic development is a crucial component of a wider reconciliation," he said.
"The economy of the northern province grew by 22 percent in 2011, while for the country as a whole it was 8.3 percent.
"This is the result of sustained and substantial investment and development in infrastructure in that part of the country."
Among other subjects, Peiris discussed with US Senators the defeat of the LTTE and Sri Lanka's ties with India and China.
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