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Sri Lanka: Armed Conflict

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives in Colombo have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of (A) the government of Sri Lanka and (B) the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on (1) civilian deaths since and (2) the humanitarian effects of (x) the resumption of major fighting in Sri Lanka in August 2006 and (y) the government's formal withdrawal from the ceasefire agreement on 2nd January 2008; and if he will make a statement. (197135)

The conflict and its impact on civilians is the focus of high level discussions between the British and Sri Lankan governments. We are gravely concerned by the humanitarian impact of the conflict on the civilian population. All parties to the conflict need to do more to protect civilians.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in November 2007 in Kampala. He said that we stood ready to support a process of reconciliation and underlined the need for respect for human rights and democracy. During visits by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. Howells) to Sri Lanka in February and July 2007, he expressed deep concern at the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation.

The Government do not regularly meet the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). My right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) visited Sri Lanka, including LTTE controlled territory in November 2006, to share his experience of peace-building in Northern Ireland with the parties to the conflict. Officials from our high commission in Colombo and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office meet representatives of a broad range of Tamil views, on a regular basis.