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Sri Lanka is hoping for further economic assistance from Japan to rebuild the northeast- ern part of the island previously controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam once the long-running civil war comes to an end, the country’s ambassador to Japan said Tuesday.

“Japan is very much involved in the reconstruction” of the areas once held by the LTTE, Ambassador Jayantha Palipane said during a visit to The Japan Times.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said Sunday that the military is on the verge of defeating the LTTE after bitter fighting that first started in 1983.

The ambassador said once the last remaining LTTE stronghold in a narrow coastal area is under government control, the next task would be to re-establish democracy in the area and to ensure the development of the local economy.

People in the areas previously held by the LTTE need to be ensured that “they would be looked after” by the government once the rebels are defeated, the envoy said.

He also expressed hope that an end to the civil war would “reopen Sri Lanka” to Japanese business and investment. Japan has been a major donor of economic aid to Sri Lanka. In 2007, Japan was the sixth-largest exporter to the country.

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