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09 March, 2010 - Published 12:48 GMT

UN reiterates Sri Lanka concern

The United Nations has reiterated its concern over lack of progress on agreed measures to address grievances concerning possible war crimes.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon has told journalists in New York that he expressed his concerns to President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a recent telephone call.

A joint UN-Sri Lankan statement last May, after a visit to Sri Lanka by Mr. Moon, said the government would take measures to address grievances concerning possible war crimes.

But the government's critics say it has not followed through on this.

"I raised this issue and discussed it. I made clear to President Rajapaksa that I intend to move forward on a Group of Experts which will advise me on setting the broad parameters and standards on the way ahead on establishing accountability concerning Sri Lanka," Ban ki-Moon has said.

He added that president Rajapaksa has agreed for a visit to Sri Lanka by Under-Secretary-General of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe "in the very near future."

The Secretary General and Mr. Rajapaksa have had a "frank and honest exchange of views" on issues including "moving forward on political reconciliation, further movement on the condition of internally displaced persons, and the establishment of an accountability process".

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has earlier this week denounced plans by Mr. Moon to ask a panel of experts to look into human rights issues on the island.

Mr Rajapaksa told Mr Ban the move was "uncalled for and unwarranted", the president's office said in a statement.

Bogollagama's son

Human rights groups want some sort of accountability for abuses alleged to have been committed by both sides during the war against Tamil Tiger separatists.

The Sri Lankan government insists it did nothing wrong.

"President Rajapaksa has pointed out that the intention of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a panel of experts to advise him on Sri Lanka is totally uncalled for and unwarranted," a government statement said.

The Secretary General has also said that he was not aware of a request by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama for a UN job for his son.

Minister Bogollagama has written to Mr. Moon's Private Secretary Vijay Nambiar, through a Sri Lankan diplomat in New York, seeking a top UN job for his son, according to Sunday Times in Sri Lanka.

"As a father I will do just that, UN or otherwise. This is a personal matter within the family. My son is qualified and he is suitable to serve on the very highest office in any part of the world," the minister has told the newspaper.

But the Secreatary General says there is a process in which candidates are selected for UN jobs.

"As a matter of fact, any recruitment process will have to be dealt with in a most transparent and objective manner by the slection committee members," he said.