ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 15

Britain ready to help Lanka achieve political settlement

From Neville de Silva in London

Britain is ready to help Sri Lanka reach a political settlement in its conflict with the LTTE, a British minister has said. But Britain would not play a proactive role and would assist if requested. The minister was responding to a comment by Prof. GL Peiris, minister of export development and international trade that the international community had a supportive role to play in Sri Lanka's quest for a political settlement.

The British minister said they would like to see political proposals on the table to show that Sri Lanka was indeed pursuing a political solution to the conflict, informed source said.

The Labour Government's readiness to help Sri Lanka was conveyed to Prof. GL Peiris when he called on Lord Mark Malloch Brown, a foreign office minister in charge of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This was the first meeting between Lord Malloch Brown and a senior Sri Lankan minister since his appointment to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following Gordon Brown's assumption of the premiership.

He explained to the British minister the weaknesses in the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) and why it failed. He had said numerous violations of the CFA by the LTTE as recorded by the SLMM was one reason for its failure. Prof Peiris also called on John Hutton, secretary of state for trade and raised some concerns Sri Lanka had on trade and tariff issues that should be taken up before the World Trade Organisation.

He told the trade secretary that the loss of any concessions that Sri Lanka enjoys would not only affect the volume of foreign exchange earned by the country but would also affect employment opportunities for several thousands. He left London on Friday for Russia and the Ukraine where he is due to have discussions with tea traders on importing packeted tea and tea bags rather than bulk tea.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.