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Sri Lanka has 'nothing to hide' over rights

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said Thursday that he was ready to defend his country against allegations of war crimes at this week's Commonwealth summit, saying it had "nothing to hide".

"We are very open, we have nothing to hide," Rajapakse told reporters on the eve of the 53-member group's summit, which is set to be dominated by allegations of abuses during the final stages of Sri Lanka's 37-year ethnic conflict.

Rajapakse said he was ready to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss allegations that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by Sri Lankan forces in the closing stages of the conflict in the island's north.

"I will be meeting him and we will see what, I will also have to ask some questions," he said.

Rajapakse, who was elected president of the former British colony in 2005, mounted a stout defence of his administration's handling of allegations of rights abuses.

"We have a legal system in Sri Lanka," he told a press conference. "We have a human rights commission, now the Commonwealth is ready to strengthen it.

"If anyone wants to complain about a human rights violation in Sri Lanka -- whether it be torture, whether it be rape -- we have a system.

"If there are any violations, we will take actions against anybody."

The 67-year-old leader said his administration deserved credit for managing to bring an end to the conflict between minority ethnic Tamils and the majority Sinhalese which erupted four decades ago.

"People were getting killed for 30 years, at least after 2009 we have stopped it.

"There is no killing in Sri Lanka today."

At least 100,000 people lost their lives in the conflict which was one of the longest-running and bloodiest in Asia.

As well as the allegations against government forces, Tamil Tiger rebels -- who were known for their trademark suicide bombings -- are also accused of killing thousands of people.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131114/sri-lanka-has-nothing-hide-over-rights-0