Sri Lanka warns US over leaked cables

External Affairs Minister G L Peiris told US Ambassador to the country, Patricia Butenis that Colombo did not condone publishing the cables on WikiLeaks, but felt that the contents of the documents were designed to discredit Sri Lanka.

"The Minister expressed the view that at least where future instances may be concerned, greater circumspection would be appropriate," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the minister discussed the WikiLeaks disclosures with the ambassador and showed her examples of attempts to tarnish Sri Lanka's image.

"He said that he is constrained however to point out that the purported cables do contain glaring instances of allegations totally unwarranted by the ground reality, being conveyed to Washington.

"As examples, the Minister cited the claims of children being sold into slavery, with the boys to work in camps and the girls to prostitution rings.

The Minister emphasised that the conveying of such mendacious stories clearly fabricated to denigrate Sri Lanka, are totally negative to the objective of diplomacy, which is building bridges and promoting understanding."

There was no immediate word from the US embassy here which has earlier said that the leaked cable did not constitute US policy.

However, in a leaked cable earlier this month, Butenis is supposed to have told Washington that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers and former army chief Sarath Fonseka were among those responsible for alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.

In another leaked document last week, the former US ambassador Robert Blake was quoted as saying that his information from "trusted sources" was that Colombo colluded with anti-Tiger Tamil para military groups.

Government forces defeated the Tiger rebels last year, ending their decades long campaign for an independent homeland.

The onslaught also triggered war crimes allegations which Colombo denies. The External Affairs ministry said Peiris also took up the question of a petition by US lawmakers last week calling for a probe into war crimes in Sri Lanka and told Butenis that it was unnecessary.

"The Minister went on to express the hope that the US Embassy in Colombo and the State Department in Washington would convey to the Senators and Congressmen, the need to avoid being pushed by false propaganda towards the adoption of a pre-judgemental attitude." 

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