UK minister satisfied with post-conflict progress in Sri Lanka



Colombo: A visiting British minister on Thursday expressed satisfaction at the progress made by Sri Lanka after the nearly three decade-long conflict, as he visited Tamil-dominated war-ravaged areas in the north.

"I have been pleased to see progress in some areas since the end of the conflict. The destructive force of war-tearing lives, families, societies and countries apart, is only too evident in this part of the country," Alistair Burt, the British foreign office deputy minister, said.

Burt made the comments at the northern district of Kilinochchi. Burt is on his second Sri Lanka visit in as many years.

"It is great to see young Sri Lankans leading efforts to heal wounds and to unite Sri Lankans of all backgrounds in the task of reconciliation and recovery", he said.

Burt visited the Keppapilavu displaced location site where the last bits of a near 300,000 civilians displaced at the last stage of the military conflict three years ago are housed and expressed hope that they would soon be able to return to their homes.

He was a guest at 'Sri Lanka Unites' centre, a UK funded project which provides youth in the former LTTE military nerve centre of Mullaithivu to be engaged in recreational activities through sports as well as social media.

The British minister is the latest in a string of foreign government representatives to tour Sri Lanka since the advent of the New Year.

Three top US State Department officials and an Australian parliamentary delegation have just concluded their visits.

The international focus on Sri Lanka has increased in the recent times with another key UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka due to be moved in the March session.

The visits assume added significance with Sri Lanka due to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Governments (CHOGM) meeting in November.

Canada has threatened to stay away from CHOGM unless Sri Lanka showed progress in reconciliation efforts with the Tamil minority.

Also some concerns have been raised by governments over Sri Lanka's move to impeach its first woman chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

She cried foul of the process leading to doubts if the move impinged on shared commonwealth values on the independence of judiciary.

PTI