A new chill settled on the diplomatic relation between Sri Lanka and Britain as British Foreign Secretary David Miliband addressed a Parliament meeting of the Global Tamil Forum on Wednesday. The forum is known to campaign for a separate Tamil nation in Sri Lanka.
In Colombo, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama summoned acting British High Commissioner Mark Gooding to lodge its “strong protest” against Miliband’s participation at the meeting.
Bogollagama alleged that the Global Tamil Forum was an umbrella organisation of the p Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He added that any Foreign Secretary’s physical presence at such a forum would give legitimacy to an organisation with a separatist agenda for Sri Lanka.
Bogollagama said the forum was formed in order to launch the so called “Provisional Trans-National Government of Tamil Eelam”, and hence poses a ‘direct threat’ to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
According to reports from London, Miliband, in his address at the forum, criticised the LTTE in strong words for the violence it triggered and for its use of child soldiers.
But he also called for an investigation into war crimes committed by the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government and called for constitutional changes and power sharing in Sri Lanka.
In a written statement earlier to the British House of Commons, Miliband urged President Mahinda Rajapakse to use his new mandate to make real progress on national reconciliation.
The British High Commission in Colombo said in a statement that in his speech to the Global Tamil Forum, the Foreign Secretary, would re-emphasise that a peaceful, political solution is the only way to produce a lasting answer to Sri Lanka's conflict.
“It is for all Sri Lanka’s people to decide what that solution should look like. The UK firmly believes that the only way to achieve lasting and equitable peace in Sri Lanka is through genuine national reconciliation,’’ the statement said.
Relationship between the two countries has been stormy in the recent past with Sri Lanka suggesting that UK has always been secretly pro-LTTE.
According to the Sri Lanka’s London Embassy website, the UK is Sri Lanka's second largest market and third largest foreign direct investor. There are 207 UK companies operating in Sri Lanka with an estimated investment of US $ 429 million.
Meanwhile, arrested former army chief Sarath Fonseka on Wednesday signed his nomination papers for the April 8 general election as the leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA). The DNA is aligned with the Marxist, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.