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CHOGM not just about Sri Lanka – UK Minister

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Strongly defending the UK’s decision to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, a senior UK minister has said that Britain will make the point that the meeting, from November 15 to 27, is about the Commonwealth and not just Sri Lanka.

Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire said the UK delegation would be led by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The British government was going to Sri Lanka to support the Prince of Wales Prince Charles who will be representing the Queen, he said.

He underlined that the government saw the meeting as an opportunity for Commonwealth leaders to meet and discuss developments which affected all member countries.

“We will make the point that the meeting is about the Commonwealth and not just Sri Lanka,” Swire, responsible for Commonwealth and India, was quoted as saying by PTI.

Britain wished to discuss issues such as development in the post-2015 era, he said, adding that other topics would be raised on the margins of the summit, including worries about the disputed presidential election in the Maldives and Gambia’s decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth.

He said that UK’s presence at the CHOGM was not intended to bathe the Rajapaksa government in a golden light.

“We will raise our concern such as disappearances and other unacceptable things taking place in Sri Lanka,” he said.

He said the British Prime Minister will travel to the Tamil-dominated north during his visit. This would make him the first foreign head of government to visit the region since the bitter ethnic war ended in 2009.

Britain would discuss progress which had been made such as the elections in the north and in mine-clearing but would also highlight concerns about disappearances and the suppression of media freedom and human rights.

Sri Lanka would be aware that the world’s eyes would be on it and would want to cast itself in a good light, he said.

No decision on visa bond scheme

Asked whether a final decision has been taken on the controversial 3,000-pound visa bond scheme for Indians visiting the country which was scheduled to come into force this month, Swire said: “no decision has been taken. Our relationship with India is extremely important”.

A pilot version of the scheme was scheduled to go ahead this month and was expected to affect countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana.

Courtesy: AdaDerana

Posted on Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 16:36:26 LKT by

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