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Sri Lanka

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government played a role in the recent visits of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. McGuinness) to Sri Lanka to hold discussions with the Tamil Tigers. (103099)

The Government have played no role in the recent visits of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster to Sri Lanka. We understand that he travelled to the country at the invitation of a Sri Lankan non-governmental organisation, the Institute for Political and Conflict Transformation. We welcome efforts by participants in the Northern Ireland peace process to share their knowledge with Sri Lankans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contacts her Department has made with organisations representing the Tamil people of Sri Lanka in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement. (104385)

Officials of our High Commission in Colombo have frequent contact with groups representing the full spectrum of views of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also regularly meet visiting Tamil representatives and members of the Diaspora population resident in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the government of Sri Lanka on achieving a ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers; and if she will make a statement. (104386)

The Government regularly discusses the implementation of the Cease-Fire Agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met President Rajapakse of Sri Lanka in August, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Timms), met the President in September and my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) met representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in November. Our High Commissioner in Colombo and his officials discuss issues relating to the conflict with Sri Lankan government representatives on a daily basis.

We strongly support the work of Norwegian facilitators to achieve peace in Sri Lanka. The continuing loss of life is tragic and unnecessary. We call on both sides to abide by their existing commitments, restated in Geneva in October, to uphold the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement and demonstrate this in their actions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings her Department has held with humanitarian groups in Sri Lanka to discuss the effects of the conflict in the North and East of the country in the last 12 months. (104387)

Officials from our High Commission in Colombo meet humanitarian agencies regularly to discuss the situation in the north and east. They have participated in five multi-donor field trips to conflict affected areas since the beginning of October.