08/09/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Peace and stability, main topics at international defence seminar

by Melani Manel Perera
The three-day conference is being held in the capital from 8 to 10 August. This is the second event of its kind. The focus is on the five Rs: reconstruction, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation. After the defeat of Tamil rebels, Sri Lanka is "one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world," Defence minister says.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The three-day annual International Defence Seminar opened yesterday at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo. The Sri Lanka Army organised the event, with a focus on the five Rs, namely Reconstruction, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Reconciliation. The title, 'Towards Lasting Peace and stability,' refers to the years of war against Tamil rebels in the north of the island nation, and is meant as a sign of hope in the future.

More than 250 high-profile figures and experts, including diplomats, ministers, decision-makers, defence chiefs, and academics from 40 countries are attending seminars and lectures on peace and stability, the two main topics at the centre of the 2012 seminar.

In his address at the opening of the event, Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa (pictured) stressed that Sri Lanka today "is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world," in the middle of a general recovery. He also noted its progress, especially in demining and building reconstruction.

This seminar is the second to be organised by Sri Lanka since the end of the war against Tamil rebels in the northern part of the country. Thousands died during the war and many more became homeless. Some are still living in government-run refugee camps.

Participants heard about the Rs, which include actions and plans that go beyond traditional approaches to create an environment of prosperity, peace and stability.

The first seminar was held last year and it was dedicated to 'Defeating Terrorism - The Sri Lankan Experience.' As the title indicated, for the government rebels were terrorists. The Tamil Tiger movement, which was defeated after a 30-year war, remains an outlawed entity.

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