Sri Lankan president leaves for Middle East

Colombo, Jan 4: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday left for an official visit to the Middle East ahead of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva, the president’s office said.

The UNHRC session in March is expected to discuss Sri Lanka, where the military has been accused of killing a large number of innocents in the war against the Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009, reports Xinhua.

Sri Lanka has sought support from its allies, especially in the Middle East and Africa, against an attempt to censure the island nation at the UNHRC session.

The president will visit Jordan, Israel and Palestine during the visit which will also be used to boost bilateral ties between Sri Lanka and the Middle East.

The first stop for the president will be Amman where he will meet King Abdulla II Ibn Al Hussein.

He will then travel to Palestine for a two-day visit. There, he will hold discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During his two-day visit to Israel, Rajapaksa is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

The Sri Lankan government has been accused of failing to prosecute those responsible for alleged war crimes during the final stages of the war against the Tamil Tigers.

IANS