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* U.S. Government takes Sri Lankan officials on land study tour to Timor-Leste
Fri, Feb 26, 2010, 01:32 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 26, Colombo: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is taking 13 government officials from central and provincial ministries on a 7-day study tour to learn how land ownership issues are being resolved in Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor), a country recovering from conflict.

A press release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo said the USAID, supports efforts to address land ownership issues in conflict –affected areas of the country.

During the tour the Sri Lankan officials will meet with Timorese government authorities, development workers and community leaders, and will participate in site visits to local areas to gain many perspectives on the issue, the press release said.

The tour will focus on land tenure issues in a post-conflict environment and highlight issues of ownership security and occupation of land by non-original owners, it added.

Participating officials include land commissioners from the North and East, provincial council officials, justice sector representatives, and officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development.

Rebecca Cohn, USAID Mission Director in conversation with some of the participants of the study tour.

Full text of the press release:

U.S. Government Takes Sri Lankan Officials on Land Study Tour to Timor-Leste

Colombo – February 26, 2010: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is taking 13 government officials from central and provincial ministries on a 7-day study tour to learn how land ownership issues are being resolved in Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor), a country recovering from conflict.

USAID, the development agency of the U.S. Embassy, supports efforts to address land ownership issues in areas of Sri Lanka affected by the conflict. This study tour will focus on land tenure issues in a post-conflict environment and highlight issues of ownership security and occupation of land by non-original owners. Sri Lankan officials will meet with Timorese government authorities, development workers and community leaders, and will participate in site visits to local areas to gain many perspectives on the issue.

Rebecca Cohn, USAID Mission Director, said, "USAID is sponsoring this study tour to introduce Sri Lankan officials to some of the issues they will face as they work to address land ownership and tenure in the North and the East. Land ownership issues in areas affected by the conflict will be difficult to resolve, but stability and prosperity will depend on policies and practices that are fair and just. We hope that Sri Lankan officials will come back with some new ideas and best practices that they can use to develop policies that meet the needs of all Sri Lankans."

USAID invited government entities involved with land ownership issues to select representatives to participate in the Land Study Tour. Participants include land commissioners from the North and East, provincial council officials, justice sector representatives, and officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided development and humanitarian assistance in developing countries worldwide for nearly 50 years. Since 1956, USAID/Sri Lanka, part of U.S. Embassy Sri Lanka, has invested nearly $2 billion to benefit all the people of Sri Lanka.

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