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UN chief Ban Ki-moon begins visit to Sri Lanka

Associated Press Associated Press 31/08/2016 By KRISHAN FRANCIS, Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began a visit to Sri Lanka on Wednesday during which he is expected to discuss post-civil war reconciliation and human rights accountability with the country's leaders.

It is Ban's second trip to the South Asian island nation. His first was in May 2009, days after the bloody end of the civil war. Ban inspected the devastation from the air then.

Sri Lanka has recently begun taking steps to determine the fate of thousands of people still missing from the war and draft a new constitution that is to increase power sharing with ethnic minority Tamils. Authorities have also promised to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by government troops and the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.

Ban is to hold talks with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Tamil leaders.

He is to travel to the ethnic Sinhala-majority south as well as the Tamil-dominated north.

The civil war was fought by Tamil Tiger rebels who were demanding an independent state and complaining of systematic marginalization.

A fact-finding committee earlier appointed by Ban said about 40,000 ethnic Tamils may have been killed in the final months of fighting. An internal review initiated by Ban into the conduct of the U.N. during the final stages of the war acknowledged that the world body failed to protect civilians.

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