British Prime Minister David Cameron will be carrying a tough messages for Sri Lanka’s leadership when he visits the country for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November.
The Times newspaper reported that the tough stance taken by Canada on the summit has forced Britain on the defensive as officials sought to justify Cameron’s participation in the summit.
“The decision that Sri Lanka should host this [summit] was taken four years ago under the last government,” said a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He insisted that Cameron would still attend, carrying “tough messages” for Sri Lanka’s leadership but emphasising Britain’s “strong support” for the Commonwealth.
“We do not think that turning away from the problem is the best way to make progress in Sri Lanka. There’s nothing to suggest that not going will convince [President] Rajapaksa he must do more.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is already boycotting the event because of Sri Lanka’s human rights record, announced the review of Ottawa’s Commonwealth funding package as he attacked the decision to let Colombo stage the event.
Speaking only weeks before David Cameron, Prince Charles and leaders of most of the 53 member states attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on November 15-17, Harper said he was “disturbed by reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances and allegations of extra-judicial killings” in Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)