US does not support separatism — Blake


Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Robert O. Blake says in a letter to The Island in response to our recent reports on his meetings with members of the Global Tamil Forum etc that the US does not support separatism and he has never met individuals or organisations that espouse terror or violence.

Full text of the letter:

I would like to clear up some misinformation and inaccuracies reported in The Island over the past week concerning the meeting I held with Sri Lankans abroad and my plans to visit Sri Lanka. 

First, regarding my meeting with representatives from the Global Tamil Forum, I meet regularly with Sri Lankan and diaspora groups whose members represent a variety of ethnic backgrounds and viewpoints. Likewise, I meet with diaspora representatives from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and other South and Central Asian nations.  I also meet regularly with a variety of non-governmental organizations to hear their perspectives on a range of issues.  And, of course, I communicate frequently with government officials from all countries in the region.   U.S. policy is not crafted in a vacuum.  I and my colleagues at the State Department and at U.S. Embassies listen to a variety of perspectives to gain a better understanding of issues in order to best determine our policy interests and positions.  At the same time, we use these meetings as an opportunity to explain U.S. policy priorities.

Such was the case with my meeting with members of the Global Tamil Forum.  Participants shared with me their perspectives about issues facing Tamils in Sri Lanka and I outlined U.S. policy priorities. I made clear that the United States does not support separatism but rather a united, peaceful and democratic Sri Lanka. Further, I told them that we believe that the diaspora has a critical role to play.  With their resources, networks, and expertise, I encourage members of the diaspora to work with the Sri Lankan government, civil society and the international community to promote prosperity and development in Sri Lanka.    Finally, to be clear, although I meet with a variety of diaspora groups, I never meet with individuals or organizations who espouse terror or violence, in accordance with U.S. Government policy.

Second, I had originally planned to visit Sri Lanka in early April.  The purpose of my visit was simple:  I wanted to continue my ongoing dialogue with the Sri Lankan government, civil society, and others in order to gain a better understanding of developments in Sri Lanka and to explain U.S. policy. With the Minister of External Affairs out of country at the time of my scheduled visit, the Sri Lankan government asked that I postpone my trip. I look to visiting again soon and continuing the positive dialogue the United States enjoys with Sri Lankans inside and outside the country.

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