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Death of Bernard Tilakaratna

Former Foreign Secretary Bernard P. Tilakaratna died yesterday.

Tilakaratna was born on December 8, 1926 and was educated at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia and at the University of Ceylon, where he obtained his B.A. Degree.

In May 1951 Tilakaratna was appointed to the Foreign Service of Sri Lanka and had diplomatic assignments in Rangoon, Jakarta, Bombay, Paris, Moscow, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro and New York. In 1974, he was appointed Ambassador to Japan with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Korea and the Philippines and in 1982, High Commissioner to India with concurrent accreditation to Nepal and Bhutan, which post he held until 1989.

During his diplomatic career he has had five assignments in India, totalling about 14 years.

Tilakaratna served in the Ministry of Foreign affairs in various capacities such as Director General of Foreign Affairs. In 1989, he was appointed Foreign Secretary, which post he held until August 1994. He was the first Foreign service officer to be appointed to this post.

During his career in the Foreign Service and Foreign Secretary, he attended many International and Regional conferences, including UNGA Sessions, Non Aligned Summit Conferences and SAARC Summits, besides several other official visits abroad.

Since 1995, Tilakaratna has been participating in International Conferences and seminars on Ethnic Conflicts and Conflict Resolution, the UNHCR sponsored Consultation on Refugee and Migratory Movements in South Asia and the future of SAARC and read papers on these subjects.

In April 1995, he was appointed a Council Member of the Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism in New Delhi. In May 1995, he participated in the Indo/Sri Lanka Dialogue convened by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in New Delhi. Tilakaratna had a special interest in the current ethnic conflict of Sri Lanka which commenced in July 1983.

As the High Commissioner in New Delhi since 1982 and Foreign Secretary since 1989, he was personally associated with all the efforts made up to 1994 in Colombo, New Delhi, Thimpu and Bangalore to ease this conflict.

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