Colombo protests US ban on army officer

Updated 25 January 2013
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Colombo protests US ban on army officer

COLOMBO: US has refused training for a Sri Lankan general in a move that undermined military cooperation and prompted Colombo to turn to China and other nations for help, a top defense official said yesterday.
Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse said US authorities had refused to enroll Major-General Sudantha Ranasinghe and Colombo was concerned that the decision was based on “wrong information”.
He did not give details of the course the officer had been nominated to follow, but said he would take up the issue with a senior US delegation visiting the country at the weekend.
“I want to tell them that they are wrong... every time they (US diplomats and officials) meet me, they say they want to strengthen the cooperation with our military,” Rajapakse said.
“If the US stops military training (completely), then Sri Lankan officers will only go to China, India and Pakistan.”
Rajapakse did not specify why Ranasinghe had been rejected. The US refuses entry to any foreign military personnel suspected of human rights violations.
The US and other nations have been highly critical of Sri Lanka’s military for its final onslaught on Tamil rebel areas in 2009, which left an estimated 40,000 civilians dead.
Ranasinghe had been the commissioner-general of rehabilitation responsible for reintegrating into society some 12,000 Tamil rebels who surrendered in the final stages of the war, Rajapakse said.
He said the officer had not been involved in direct combat operations.
The US stopped selling military hardware to Sri Lanka throughout much of its 37-year ethnic war against the Tamil rebels, pushing Colombo to make purchases from China, Pakistan and several East European nations.
Military officials said 200 junior Sri Lankan officers continued to receive opportunities for short-term training in the US, but the issue was with senior officers who had held command positions during the height of the fighting.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Vikram Singh, and two senior state department officials are due in Colombo tomorrow for talks.


White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

Updated 34 min 17 sec ago
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White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

  • Jared Kushner is in the Middle East to help lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan
  • Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia

AMMAN: President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in the Middle East to help lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
Kushner, along with White House envoy Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Jordan on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah II, a key US ally. A White House statement said the talks included discussions on the Gaza humanitarian situation and US efforts to “facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
US officials have said their plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties since Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled.