Sweden on Tuesday recalled its head of mission in Colombo after the Sri Lankan government denied entry visa to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
Bildt applied for an entry visa at the Lankan embassy in Stockholm to be part of a European Union diplomatic mission to Sri Lanka. The other members of the mission – whose visits to Colombo are still on schedule – are UK and France. They are expected to press for a truce between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Lankan military.
Bildt told the AFP news agency: “The Lankan authorities have said that they don't accept me. I am not persona non grata because they say I am welcome at another time, but I am not intending to take up that invitation.”
Bildt said the action was “exceedingly strange behaviour” and that he was recalling the top Swedish diplomat in Sri Lanka, charge d'affaires Borje Mattsson, for consultation.
It was learnt that Lankan authorities told Bildt that they could not accommodate him at present but could visit in May.
It was also learnt the Swedish FM was conveyed that while UK and France were invited to Lanka, and no such invitation was extended to Sweden.
This the second time that Sri Lanka had got into a diplomatic row with another member of the Sri Lanka monitoring mission (SLMM), which was set up during ceasefire between the rebels and the government in 2002.
Earlier this month, the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime said Norway — which had brokered peace between the two sides — could no longer play the role of the peace talk’s facilitator for the government.