U.K., India for continued engagement with Colombo on ‘rights abuses’

Indo uk  India and Britain on Thursday agreed that they had the same approach towards Sri Lanka but differed on attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), beginning in Colombo on Friday.

At a meeting here, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and David Cameron agreed that it was necessary to address the question of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka during the war between its armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that ended in 2009.

Sources in the government said both leaders felt it necessary to stay engaged with Colombo on the question of alleged rights abuses.

Official sources, who gave an account of the third meeting in India between the two leaders in the past couple of years, preferred to focus on trade and investment issues and made no mention of this aspect.

CHOGM also figured in an interview of Mr. Cameron by a news channel in which he said he respected Dr. Singh’s decision not to attend the meet .

“India, Canada and Britain, we all have the same approach towards Sri Lanka. My own view about attending is it’s a Commonwealth conference, I believe in helping to lead the organisation,” he told CNN-IBN.

Like Dr. Singh, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also not going to Colombo.

Mr. Cameron sought to allay apprehensions about the U.K. becoming unfriendly to foreigners, especially from the developing world, by stating that there was no limit on the number of Indian students who can come to his country. At the same time, he explained that being a small country, Britain would have to keep a keen eye on immigration flows.

“I think people will understand that for a country like Britain, much smaller geographically than India, we have to control immigration. We had a policy on immigration. It wasn’t well managed, it wasn’t well controlled over a 10-year period. So we had an additional 2 million people coming into Britain, which is a big number,” Mr. Cameron told businesspersons during an interaction.

The two Prime Ministers felt the need to provide an impetus to two-way investments and discussed the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC). They also discussed international issues as well as the situation in the region, including the developments in Afghanistan. (The Hindu)

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