* U.S. envoy for women's issues had hoped to visit next week
* U.S., planning rights resolution, says visa denied
* Government says not true, dates for visit not convenient
(Adds Sri Lankan reaction)
By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal
COLOMBO, Feb 5 Sri Lanka has refused a visa
request for a U.S. State Department official, the U.S. Embassy
said on Tuesday, after Washington signalled it would propose a
U.N. resolution against the South Asian state over alleged war
However, Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry said the
embassy's statement "was not a correct representation of the
facts", adding the dates for the proposed trip had not been
Tensions rose after U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha
Biswal voiced frustration on Saturday over Sri Lanka's failure
to punish military personnel responsible linked to reported
atrocities in a civil war that the Colombo government won in
2009 against separatist Tamil rebels.
Biswal, speaking after a two-day visit to Colombo, said
Washington would put forward a third U.N. human rights
resolution against Sri Lanka in March to address the allegations
because its rights climate has been worsening.
The U.S. Embassy said the Sri Lankan government had turned
down a visa application for Catherine Russell, the U.S.
ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, and it called the
Russell had been scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in line with
her mandate to promote stability, peace, and development by
empowering women politically, socially and economically.
"The United States will continue to raise important issues
related to gender-based violence, the impact that the conflict
had on families (particularly female-headed households), the
need for greater economic empowerment by women, and for greater
political participation by women across Sri Lanka," the embassy
said in an emailed statement.
Biswal said that during her visit people in Sri Lanka's
former northern war zone referred to a range of human rights
abuses including the disappearance of civilians.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government, which finally
crushed the rebellion of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) 26 years after it erupted, has rejected calls for an
international inquiry, saying this would be aimed only at
pleasing a large Tamil diaspora living in Western countries.
Senior U.S. officials declined to say what would be in the
planned resolution, but embassy officials said it might repeat
the call for an international investigation in Sri Lanka.
The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday said the relevant
U.S. authorities were advised by the ministry that the dates
proposed for the visit were not convenient.
"Rescheduling of a visit does not amount to refusal of a
visa. The position was fully and clearly explained to the U.S.
Embassy," the ministry said in a statement.
Sri Lanka has rejected U.S. criticism of its human rights
record as "grossly disproportionate".
A U.N. panel has assessed that around 40,000 mainly Tamil
civilians died in the final few months of the war. Both sides
committed atrocities, but army shelling killed most victims, it
Rajapaksa, speaking at Independence Day celebrations on
Tuesday, said unidentified foreigners were trying to use
"northern people", a reference to ethnic Tamils, as "human
"The invaders always came to our country shedding oceans of
crocodile tears. They interfered ... putting forward claims to
protect human rights, establish democracy and the rule of law,"
(Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alison