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* US officials' visit to Sri Lanka not related to recent events - Foreign Secretary
Sun, Jan 20, 2013, 08:51 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 20, Colombo: A visit of three high ranking officials of the United States government to Sri Lanka in the backdrop of recent changes to the judiciary is not related to the current events, country's Foreign Secretary assured.

The Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, Karunatilaka Amunugama said the scheduled visit of three US Deputy Assistant Secretaries to Sri Lanka next week was planned several months ago and is according to an annually devised plan.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vikram Singh, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jane Zimmerman will travel to Sri Lanka and Maldives from January 26-February 1, 2013, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo announced Saturday.

According to the Embassy the officials will meet with senior Sri Lankan officials, members of various political parties as well as civil society to discuss a wide range of issues, including progress in implementing the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and National Action Plan.

Local media reports and activist groups questioned the motive of the US officials' visit in the wake of the impeachment of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

A nationalist movement in Sri Lanka, the Patriotic National Movement, called on the government to ascertain the actual motive of the three deputy secretaries.

The movement alleged that the US delegation is visiting Sri Lanka to gather evidence to be used against the country at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva in March.

Sri Lanka received wide condemnation over Bandaranayake's controversial impeachment which was seen as a blow to the democracy and independence of judiciary.

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