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US Envoy, Sri Lankan President Discuss Deteriorating Human Rights Situation

10 May 2007

A top U.S. envoy says Washington is concerned about the continued deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher made the remark Thursday following talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in the capital, Colombo.

Boucher told reporters there are two aspects that concern Washington, one is the abductions and killings blamed on the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, and the other is the freedom of the press.

He said at least one U.S. program to fund poverty-reduction and development in the island nation through the Millennium Challenge Corporation has been stalled because of the deteriorating security situation.

Boucher added the United States would like to see Sri Lanka take action to reduce violence in the country.

Boucher's visit came at a time of heightened conflict between the government and the rebels. On Wednesday, he traveled to the northern Jaffna peninsula to meet with military, government and civic leaders about ways to restore peace.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for independence in the northern and eastern parts of the country since 1983. More than 65,000 people have died in the conflict.

The government and rebels agreed to a ceasefire in 2002, but both sides have violated the truce.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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