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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

UK is ready to help Sri Lanka reach a political settlement, says British Prime Minister

By Janaka Alahapperuma - London

London, 24 April, ( British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that his government is ready to offer not only humanitarian help, but also help to bring about a ceasefire and a political solution to the problems in Sri Lanka. He made this statement at the parliament when Liberal Democratic MP Simon Hughes put forward a question at him on Wednesday 22nd April.

Simon Hughes MP from a South London constituency (North Southwark and Bermondsey) asked the Prime Minister whether he can put the Sri Lankan problem on the agenda of the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the European Union Foreign Ministers meeting. He further requested the PM to bring about a ceasefire immediately.

However, Prime Minister Gordon Brown completely ignored this question and explained to the House that the British government’s stand in directly dealing with another friendly democratic country.

He said that the Foreign Secretary and himself are doing what they can to impress on the Sri Lankan Government, not only the need for humanitarian aid now, but the need to press forward with a political settlement, which is the only way forward to deal with the problems that they have faced. He did not mention the agenda of the Commonwealth, UN and EU with respect to this crisis.

He said to the House that he spoke to the President of Sri Lanka earlier this week and has followed up meetings that they have had previously. He explained that he asked Sri Lanka President to extend the pause in fighting. He further said he also asked for humanitarian access to those refugees who have come out of the conflict zone, who are in difficulty and in need of help. "I have said that the UN should have full access. I also asked whether he would receive a delegation from the United Kingdom, so that we could assess what humanitarian help was available and should be made available".

Explaining the British Foreign Policy, and the discussion British PM had with Sri Lanka President, he said "We have had further discussions over the past few days, and I believe that the President would now be prepared to accept a humanitarian delegation, on a cross-party basis, from the United Kingdom. To prepare the way, a Department for International Development Minister would go to Sri Lanka later this week. We will impress on its Government the need not only for humanitarian help, but for a ceasefire and a political solution to these problems".

However, it is clear that Prime Minister’s answer would have thoroughly disappointed pro Tamil Tiger supporters including MP Simon Hughes and the clan who are in favour of Tamil Ealam. In the last few weeks, Simon Hughes put in a massive effort to put pressure on Sri Lanka through the British government, Commonwealth, EU and UN. He visited the illegal demonstration which has being held at Parliament Square in London and promised the hunger strikers that he would make arrangements for them to meet UN, USA, EU and commonwealth officials. So far all those attempts have become fruitless.

It is also clear that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Milliband are aware that the ground situation in “no fire zone” in Sri Lanka from the daily updates they receive through British High Commission, Colombo. Therefore, by the time International Development Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka is prepared with the special delegation, Sri Lanka Forces will complete the humanitarian mission liberating all the innocent Tamil civilians under Tamil Tigers.

- Asian Tribune -

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