GL briefs British MPs on developments
External Affairs Minister Professor G L Peiris met with a group of
British Parliamentarians, on a visit to Sri Lanka, for an in-depth
discussion about current developments in the country.
The minister briefed them comprehensively on political developments
including implementation of the report of the Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission, as well as issues relating to investment,
trade and tourism. This was followed by an interactive session. Among
the matters discussed during the session were the conduct of an
islandwide census after almost 30 years, the launch of a trilingual
policy, issues relevant to the Human Rights Council and the Universal
Periodic Review process and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
which will be held in Sri Lanka next month.
He also briefed the delegation on the preparations being made in
Colombo to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting next year,
including the establishment of a National Task Force.
Minister Peiris said the United Kingdom is Sri Lanka’s largest
trading partner within the European Union, and the total trade between
the two countries, now at a threshold exceeding US $ 1.2 billion, is
continuing to grow, 106,000 tourists from the United Kingdom visited Sri
Lanka last year and the numbers are expanding.
The minister invited investment, especially in tourism
infrastructure. Prof Peiris said the government had co-operated with the
United Kingdom Border Agency in facilitating the return of unsuccessful
He said none of these returnees had faced any harassment or
intimidation, contrary to malicious propaganda carried out by some
The minister appreciated the visit by United Kingdom Parliamentarians
during their summer vacation to observe developments at first hand. He
expressed the hope the visit will help dispel misperceptions generated
by the disinformation campaign being carried out by some groups with
vested interests against Sri Lanka.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva briefed the delegation on matters
relating to the political process and the role of a Parliamentary Select
Committee. During their stay in Sri Lanka, the British Parliamentarians
will visit Kandy, Jaffna, Killinochchi, Trincomalee and Batticaloa
districts. A special feature of the visit is all Parliamentarians in the
delegation are those who were elected to the British Parliament for the
first time at the General Election in May 2010. Most of them are
visiting Sri Lanka for the first time. The delegation consists of eight
Members of Parliament belonging to the Conservative Party and one Member
of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
Among the participants in the discussion with the British
Parliamentarians were Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the United
Kingdom Dr Chris Nonis, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka John
Rankin and Member of Parliament Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena.