British official in Sri Lanka for talks

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 31, 2013 13:00 hrs

Colombo, Jan 31 (IANS) A British minister arrived here Thursday to meet government officials after the US decided to move a resolution pulling up Sri Lanka over rights abuses at the upcoming UNHCR meet.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt flew into Colombo for what is tipped to be a crucial meeting with Sri Lanka officials, reports Xinhua.

The British embassy said it was Burt's second visit to the country.

In his two-day visit, Burt will meet senior members of the government and opposition parties, the business community and international NGOs.

He will also visit Sri Lanka's former war-torn northern province.

On Monday, a visiting US delegation headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore announced that a fresh resolution on Sri Lanka would be moved at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in February.

Moore insisted that this was due to the government dragging its feet on crucial human rights and reconciliation measures. The government has denied this.

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris protested the US decision to move a second resolution at Geneva, insisting that it would undermine local processors for reconciliation.

He said the government had consistently cooperated with UN agencies and voluntarily participated in the Universal Periodic Review and as such did not merit such action.

Burt's visit comes ahead of Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma's visit to Sri Lanka in February.

Earlier this month, Canada began to push for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be withdrawn from being hosted by Sri Lanka.

CHOGM is the highest decision making body for the Commonwealth. Sri Lanka is expected to raise the issue with Sharma during his visit.

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