Senior Indian officials have claimed that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first ever trip to Chennai will be a strictly non-governmental visit with no discussion on Sri Lanka.
But a senior official in the Barack Obama administration, who will accompany Clinton, has said that Sri Lanka would definitely figure in the discussions between the secretary of state and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa when they meet for the first time.
In an exclusive interview with rediff.com, the Obama administration’s point man for South Asia Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, an erstwhile US Ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2009, said, “Obviously, the 60 million people who live in Tamil Nadu have a lot of concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka,” and that he was sure that this will “be a section of the discussion when the secretary meets the chief minister”.
Earlier, senior Indian embassy officials, while briefing journalists in Washington on the upcoming US-India Strategic Dialogue and Clinton’s maiden visit to Chennai, said, she would not discuss any foreign policy issues, specifically Sri Lanka, during her visit to Chennai.
Sri Lanka is under tremendous US pressure to allow for an investigation led by the United States in alleged war crimes during the final months of the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Reportage: Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC