Beijing, Feb 11 IANS | 10 months ago

China Tuesday voiced support for Sri Lanka as the US spearheaded a third resolution on the country's human rights record to be presented before the UN Human Rights Council in March.

"China opposes some countries' interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights issues," Xinhua quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying Tuesday during talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, in Beijing.

China backs the Sri Lankan government in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Wang said.

"We believe in the Sri Lankan people's wisdom and capacity to handle their own affairs," he added.

Sri Lanka has come under heavy pressure from the West and human rights groups for alleged war crimes during the final months of the war against the LTTE rebels, which began 30 years ago.

The rebels were defeated in May 2009, but human rights groups have alleged that thousands of civilians were also killed in the process, an allegation the government denies.

On bilateral ties, Wang hailed the stable growth of China-Sri Lanka ties as a model for friendly co-existence and win-win relations between states, saying the relationship has entered its best period in history.

He called on the two countries to expand maritime cooperation and build together a 21st-century Maritime Silk Road that connects the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, an initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping during his Southeast Asia visit in October.

Peiris, who is also here as special envoy of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said China was an important partner for Sri Lanka and has provided a lot of assistance to its economic and social development, and expressed gratitude to China.

Sri Lanka supported the building of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road and was willing to strengthen cooperation with China in all fields, Peiris said.

The visiting Sri Lankan minister later met Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao who called on both countries to boost cooperation and cement their strategic cooperation partnership.

Hailing the stable growth of bilateral ties, Li said China-Sri Lanka relations had entered a new stage of development after the two heads of state announced an upgrade of relations to strategic cooperation partnership last year.

He said he hoped the two sides would facilitate pragmatic cooperation in accordance with the countries' national development strategies and offer stronger support and reliable friendship to each other.

Peiris said Sri Lanka hoped to boost high-level visits and all-round cooperation with China and push forward the bilateral partnership.

Peiris is visiting China from Monday to Thursday at the invitation of Wang.

(Posted on 11-02-2014)

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