Priority of President,PM national reconciliation- Mangala


From Shamindra Ferdinando in London

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said that the priority of the President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe administration would be post-war national reconciliation process.

Minister Samaraweera was responding to a query by The Island after having met British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, MP, at the Marlborough House on Monday evening.

"We discussed proposed constitutional reforms and ways and means of expediting reconciliation process."

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Day reception at the Marlborough House, while about 200 eelam activists protested outside.

Foreign Secretary Hammond has appreciated measures taken by the new government since the recently concluded presidential election to expedite the reconciliation process. The appointment of a presidential task force in this regard, too, has received the backing of the British.

During the discussion, Minister Samaraweera asserted that Sri Lanka needed foreign direct investments (FDIs) not aid as the country strived to achieve the status of the best investment destination in South Asia.

Foreign Secretary Hammond has indicated that there could be some high level visits to Colombo following the May general elections.

Both ruling conservatives-led coalition as well as main Opposition Labour is seeking to win over significant Tamil electorate in the UK.

Minister Samaraweera emphasized that the government was determined to go ahead with confidence building measures. The minister said that the releasing of eight persons, including a woman who had been detained for allegedly accommodating alleged LTTE operatives by the Colombo Additional Magistrate courts on Tuesday (March 10) would help the healing process. Jeyakumary Balendaran was held in detention for nearly one year under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). She was granted a personal bail of Rs.200,000 and court instructed her to sign in at the closest Police Station every month.

She was arrested on March 13 last year on suspicion of harboring LTTE operatives at her home in Kilinochchi.

Minister Samaraweera said that at the time of his meeting with Foreign Secretary Hammond, Jayakumary hadn’t been released. The minister expressed confidence that the Tamil Diaspora would recognize and appreciate ongoing efforts by the new administration to facilitate lasting understanding between the two communities.

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