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Sri Lanka grateful for Saudi support at UN

The Sri Lankan government praised Saudi Arabia’s crucial support in its fight against terror and civil war between the majority Sinahlese and ethnic Tamil communities in Sri Lanka during a voting session at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday.
“We are grateful for the Saudi support at the key UN vote which concluded in Geneva last week,” Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie, senior minister for Urban Affairs told Arab News from Colombo on Sunday.
The US-initiated resolution was carried out at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva with 23 votes in favor and 12 against the resolution.
Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan were among 12 countries that sided with Sri Lanka. India and 11 other states abstained from voting although the resolution was approved on Thursday with 23 votes in favor of the resolution.
The latest resolution asked UN rights Chief Navi Pillay to probe the actions of both government forces and Tamil rebels during a seven-year period leading up to the end of Sri Lanka’s 37-year-old Tamil separatist war.
About 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were said to have been killed by government forces in the final months of fighting, a charge Colombo has vehemently denied.
Sri Lanka has also said it needs more time to effect reconciliation between the ethnic Tamil minority and the majority Sinhalese community.
Speaking to Arab News, Fowzie said that the Kingdom has always been supportive of Sri Lanka at all international forums. “Both countries have been victims of terror and Sri Lanka has been suffering from terror for well over three decades,” the minister said, adding that his government would push on with reconciliation efforts in its bid to maintain transparency.
The minister said that he hopes to visit the Kingdom shortly to hand over a letter from his country’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the high officials to express his government’s appreciation to the Saudi leadership for voting in favor of Sri Lanka.
Two weeks before the voting, Fowzie held talks with Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, on matters of mutual cooperation. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, who rejected the UN call for an investigation against his country, said he was pleased that India, which voted for a similar resolution last year, decided to abstain this time round.
“I think it is encouraging that India did not vote against us,” he said shortly after the results of the vote were announced on Thursday.
“We reject this (resolution),” Rajapakse said. “This resolution only hurts our reconciliation efforts. It does not help. But I am not discouraged. We will continue with the reconciliation process I have started.”
External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris said yesterday the outcome of the vote on the US sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission reflects that more countries are against the US at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Prof. Peris stressed that the US resolution was voted for with a majority of 25 last year but it has dropped to 23.
The number of countries against the resolution is greater than those supporting it, he said. He made these observations at a press conference at Peacock Hotel, Hambantota. Professor Peiris said that another development is that India which voted for the US during the last two years, abstained from voting this year.

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