ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 01, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 53

President to attend C’wealth mini-summit

From Neville de Silva in London

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is one of 10 heads of government who will attend a two-day Commonwealth mini-summit in London next week to discuss the reform of international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and also the United Nations system.

The mini-summit starting on June 9 will focus on practical steps that Commonwealth member-states can take to achieve the reform and coherence of global institutions. The President is expected to be accompanied by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama as one in a delegation that is still to be named.

The summit which has three themes before it will examine the international financial institutions, global environmental governance and the UN system. Sri Lanka was not included in the original 10 Commonwealth states listed by the then secretary-general Don McKinnon who was directed by the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Kampala last November to invite a representative group to examine these structures.

However at the suggestion of McKinnon’s successor Kamalesh Sharma who took office last April it added a rider whereby any other member-country interested in attending the summit could ask to be included.

Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Mauritius were three of the countries that made use of that concession for inclusion. Three of the original invitees, India, New Zealand and South African however have dropped out, leaving many of the major players in the Commonwealth except the UK, out of the summit, diplomatic sources said.

Calling the London meeting “a rare and hugely significant gathering of Commonwealth leaders,” Secretary-General Sharma said that the international institutions “need to reflect the interests of the whole membership, especially those small developing states as championed by the Commonwealth whose voice is often not heard in international councils.”

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