In an apparent move to placate Sri Lanka's anger over US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks that "rape" was used as a weapon in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the US has said it had no recent evidence of women being sexually assaulted while in custody in the country.
In a letter addressed to Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, the state department said, "in the most recent phase of the conflict, from 2006 to 2009 ... we have not received reports that rape and sexual abuse were used as tools of war, as they clearly have in other conflict area around the world".
The letter, signed by Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women's issues at the state department, said there had been such charges only in the past, a statement by the Sri Lankan presidential office said in Colombo.
It follows Clinton's statement at a UN conference that "rape had been used as a weapon of war in the Balkans, Burma, Sri Lanka and elsewhere".
The Sri Lankan government officially protested against her statement and Defence Affairs Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said Sri Lanka totally rejected and condemned Clinton's statement.The letter further said, "We hope that this clarification puts the issue in its proper context."