Excerpt from February 23 Biefing at State Department
QUESTION: Different topic? On Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Government has called for protests over what it says is the U.S. position on the UN Human Rights Council. That’s with regard to the events of 2009, the end of the civil war. Does the U.S. have anything to say either about Sri Lanka’s call for protests over this, or more broadly, about the U.S. position on the UN Human Rights Council?
MR. TONER: Well, we think – sure, Shaun. We think we’ve been very consistent in our dialogue with the Government of Sri Lanka regarding the issue of reconciliation and accountability. We long publicly supported the idea of the Government of Sri Lanka having the time and space for this domestic Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission to carry out its work, and believed that an action plan would be announced when that report was made public. And then subsequent to the report’s publication, we wanted the Government of Sri Lanka to follow up on some of the recommendations from the report.
Again, we welcome the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission’s report. It was a Sri Lankan undertaking, which includes many strong recommendations that, when implemented, could help improve and contribute to genuine reconciliation and strengthening of democratic institutions and practices in Sri Lanka. But to date, frankly, we’ve not seen a detailed action plan from the Government of Sri Lanka on how it’s going to implement these recommendations. So I think we still encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to move forward to take concrete steps on this implementation plan. And at the same time, we’re working with our partners in Geneva on a resolution within the UNHRC that calls for actions on important steps towards reconciliation. But I think our goal ultimately is the same here: We want to see these recommendations implemented and so that they can help lead towards reconciliation.
QUESTION: Just following up, on the Human Rights Council, in previous years, it’s fallen short regarding Sri Lanka. Is there – how concerted is the effort by the United States? Is there a desire to really pass something in the Human Rights Council on —
MR. TONER: Well, we wouldn’t be pursuing it if there wasn’t a desire. We’re also – obviously continue to be engaged with the Sri Lankan Government. But we’ve long said that we would support local efforts and want to see local efforts to address these issues, but we would also engage international mechanisms if appropriate.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the violence in Iraq today?
QUESTION: Can we stay on Sri Lanka?
MR. TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: After the visit of Indian foreign minister to Sri Lanka and then the U.S. diplomats, has there been any —
MR. TONER: Additional follow-up?
QUESTION: — diplomatic follow-through between U.S. and India on —
MR. TONER: Well, through our Embassy, of course, and I’m sure almost on a daily basis, there is engagement with the Government of Sri Lanka. Maybe not always on this particular issue, but certainly I’m sure this is —
QUESTION: No. After the Indian foreign minister’s visit, did you have anything to do with India?
MR. TONER: I’m not sure. I’ll have to take that question, Tejinder.