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Sri Lanka Team Calls UN Ban "Close," No "Darusman" Report Action For Year?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 26, updated -- After Sri Lanka's special envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe met Wednesday morning with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked him how the meeting had gone. Video here and below.

"Constructive," he called it, saying that the government's Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission report, due November 15, will be presented nearly a year later in October 2012 to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Inner City Press asked Sri Lanka had again complained about the transmission to Geneva of the UN Report (or "Darusman Report," as the government insists on calling it, referring to Report Panel chairman Marzuki Darusman). Sri Lanka Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona answered that it's a separate issue. For this any other verbatim quotes, see video below.

Multiple sources have told Inner City Press that in President Mahinda Rajapaksa's September meeting with Ban Ki-moon, Ban berated his staff for not having given sufficient notice to the Sri Lankan mission. On the other hand, the number of people the Report says were killed seems more important than technical niceties of notice.

Before the meeting began, there was a photo opportunity. Entering before Ban were, among others, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights representative Ivan Simonovic, and Department of Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe and the staffer who accepted Tamil protesters' letter in the past.

Then Mahinda Samarasinghe entered, accompanied by Kohona and his deputy, Shavendra Silva -- not accompanied by his recently hired lawyers. At the end, the talk turned to Diwali, which Kohona emphasized is a national holiday in Sri Lanka. And then they were gone. Watch this site.

Update: Two hours after the meeting finished, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman to respond to the Sri Lankan delegation's description of the meeting. There will be a read out, he replied. Some two hours later, this came in:

Readout of the Secretary-General's meeting with Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Special Envoy of the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights, 26 October 2011

Earlier today, the Secretary-General received Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Special Envoy of the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights.This meeting was part of the UN's ongoing dialogue with the Government of Sri Lanka as a follow up to the Joint Statement of 23 May 2009 between the Secretary-General and President Rajapaksa. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of dealing with accountability issues in the context of national reconciliation.

The discussion also touched on the importance of an inclusive national dialogue aimed at achieving genuine political reconciliation, as well as ongoing progress with regard to recovery and resettlement efforts in the North.

New York, 26 October 2011

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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