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Britain Threatens Sri Lanka With Inquiry Over Stalled Reconciliation

  • VOA News

Britain's PM David Cameron (2nd L), Chief Minister of Northern province, C. V. Vigneswaran (2nd R) and Sri Lankan Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party leader R. Sampanthan (L) look out from the public library in Jaffna, north of Colombo, Nov. 15, 2013.

Britain's PM David Cameron (2nd L), Chief Minister of Northern province, C. V. Vigneswaran (2nd R) and Sri Lankan Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party leader R. Sampanthan (L) look out from the public library in Jaffna, north of Colombo, Nov. 15, 2013.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has cautioned Sri Lanka to speed up its human rights and reconciliation process from civil war or face an international investigation.

Speaking Saturday at a British Commonwealth summit in Colombo, Cameron told reporters that the issue of war crimes and human rights abuses during and after Sri Lanka's 27-year conflict are not going away. He said if Sri Lanka does not address international concerns over its human rights record, his country will push for a U.N.-led investigation.

He also said he had frank discussions with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse after the prime minister returned from a fact-finding trip to the war-torn Jaffna region Friday and sensed the Colombo government does want to make progress on the issue.

However, Water Minister Nimal Siripalade Silva rejected Cameron's remarks, saying Sri Lanka would resist an international probe.

During Cameron's trip to northern Sri Lanka Friday, his motorcade was mobbed by protesters seeking answers about the country's civil war.

Several hundred people gathered on the streets of Jaffna, saying they wanted help from the international community to find missing loved ones from the war.

Some of the protesters scuffled with police and one group blocked a media vehicle. The protesters held up pictures of lost loved ones and some shouted, "We want to meet Cameron."

Cameron said on Twitter that the stories he heard in the north were "often harrowing."

Northern Sri Lanka suffered the worst of the country's decades-long civil war between soldiers and ethnic Tamil rebels.

The leaders of India and Canada boycotted this year's Commonwealth gathering amid controversy surrounding allegations the Sri Lankan army committed war crimes during the final months of the civil war.

At the opening of the conference Friday, Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa urged his fellow leaders not to pass judgment on his country's past.

The Sri Lankan government is under international scrutiny for the conduct of the final stages of its military campaign against Tamil Tiger rebels, when tens of thousands of civilians died. The government has staunchly denied committing war crimes.

The civil conflict ended in 2009 after nearly three decades of fighting.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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