Akashi to join Sri Lanka peace talks

Japan has decided to appoint former longtime United Nations diplomat Yasushi Akashi as its representative to peace talks in Sri Lanka, government officials said Saturday.

The officials said the government will formally decide on the appointment of Akashi, a former U.N. undersecretary general, at a Cabinet meeting next Friday.

Akashi, 71, has held various U.N. posts, including undersecretary general for public information, disarmament affairs and humanitarian affairs; U.N. representative in Cambodia; and special envoy to the former Yugoslavia.

Constitutional Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris, the Sri Lankan government’s top negotiator in peace talks with the Tamil Tiger rebels, asked Japan earlier this month to host a donor conference to help move the peace process forward.

At the same time, Peiris asked for Akashi to visit Sri Lanka to share his expertise as the country begins its rehabilitation and reconstruction process, Japanese officials said.

Akashi oversaw the U.N. transitional administration in Cambodia in the early 1990s and is currently chairman of the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention.