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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2967

Foreign Ministers of Britain and France were briefed of the Humanitarian situation and of the war on terror in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 30 April, ( British Foreign Secretary DavidBritish Foreign Secretary David Miliband  and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner are received by Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda RajapaksaBritish Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner are received by Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and also with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and urged the Sri Lankan Government to put a cease-fire in place which was rejected flatly by Sri Lanka. .

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Bogollagama reported to have told British Foreign Minister and French Foreign Minister that Colombo is doing everything possible to save innocent Tamil civilians trapped in a six kilometer area along with the LTTE in the northern part of the country.

The foreign ministers of Britain and France met with their Sri Lankan counterpart Wednesday amid protests from Buddhist monks calling for an end to foreign interference in the Country’s war against Tamil terrorists in the north-east of the country.

The Buddhist monks led protestors outside the British High Commission in Colombo, demonstrated against the visiting ministers

Meanwhile, during their visit, Foreign Minister Kouchner and Foreign Secretary Miliband called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and had discussion on the present developments. They also visited the IDP welfare centres in Vavuniya, and the Field Hospital donated by the French Government in Chettikulam. The visit takes place against the background of the current developments in the North of Sri Lanka, in particular the recent security forces action to liberate approximately 120,000 civilians, who were held hostage by the LTTE.

Following bilateral talks with the two visiting Ministers, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister chaired a meeting with the two delegations along with the relevant Sri Lankan line Ministries involved with the current humanitarian efforts relating to the IDPs. The Attorney-General, the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Secretaries to the Ministries of Healthcare & Nutrition, Social Services, Justice, Nation Building were present together with the Commissioner-General of Essential Services.

The two delegations also saw an audio visual presentation including UAV footage of the humanitarian rescue operation by the security forces.

While welcoming the two visiting dignitaries, Foreign Minister Bogollagama said that we are encouraged by the continued interest and concerns expressed by France and the UK on developments in Sri Lanka. He further stated that we are on the threshold of defeating terrorism and are embarking on an era of lasting peace and security for all our people. He spoke of the huge task of the humanitarian relief operations in place and thanked the UN, ICRC and the international community that are providing assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka. While specifically thanking France and UK for their special assistance he stated that he is happy to host the two dignitaries who have made this special trip to Sri Lanka in order to see for themselves and be engaged with the government of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka side also briefed the visiting delegations on the ongoing efforts by the Government and the close collaboration with the international community as well as UN agencies and the ICRC, in supplying the needs of the displaced population including shelter, food and health. The Sri Lanka side further briefed the two delegations on the additional measures in place for long term resettlement as well as rehabilitation of surrendees. It was highlighted that the international assistance towards the de-mining process would facilitate and expedite long term resettlement.

The two visiting dignitaries thanked the Foreign Minister for the detailed briefing and appreciated the extensive ongoing efforts undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka in managing the current humanitarian situation. They highlighted that their concern relating to the current situation focused on the security and welfare of the displaced civilian population. They condemned the LTTE for holding the civilian population hostage in the “no fire zone”. They encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to continue its cooperation with the UN agencies and ICRC and, to look at the possibility of providing more access to the international community.

Both Foreign Minister Kouchner and, Foreign Secretary Miliband agreed that the French and British Governments have stood with Sri Lanka during the 25 years of conflict and will continue to stand by Sri Lanka in the future. They also observed that Sri Lanka had reached a defining moment in the conflict.

Minister Bogollagama thanked the French Government for the medical assistance and for the increased financial contribution amounting to Euros 1.6 million towards the humanitarian agencies working in Sri Lanka. He also thanked the British Government for allocating a further 2.5 million Pounds, in addition to the 5 million Pounds already pledged, for humanitarian assistance. The Minister also welcomed their willingness to provide assistance in the post-conflict scenario.

During the visit to the IDP sites in Vavuniya and the French Field Hospital in Chettikulam, the visiting dignitaries obtained a first-hand impression of the relief efforts underway. They also held discussions with the Minister for Resettlement & Disaster Relief Services Rishard Bathiudeen and the GA/Vavuniya Mrs. Charles as well as the Competent Authority Major General W.A. Chandrasiri.

- Asian Tribune -

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