Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sri Lanka says Mahinda Rajapaksa's UK visit postponed not scrapped

Sri Lanka today said President Mahinda Rajapaksa visit to United Kingdom had been postponed till December and not cancelled, dismissing reports that the trip may have been scrapped over fears that he could face arrest.

Reacting to an Indian press report that the president had cancelled the visit fearing arrest, a Sri Lankan external affairs ministry official said the report was "false and misleading."

The report had said that the Lankan president had scrapped the visit following fears that he might be arrested for alleged war-crimes under British law.

It also said, that certain Sri Lankan Tamil organisations were planning to move court for his arrest for alleged rights abuses in his successful military campaign which ended 30-year of separatist campaign on the island.

The report cited the case of arrest by Scotland Yard in 1998 of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London for atrocities against Spanish civilains during his 17-year-rule.

It also referred to the refusal by US authorities to grant a visa to the chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi over similar human rights allegations.

"The report is not only false but misleading", Bandula Jayasekera, the director of publicity, in the external affairs ministry said.

Without mentioning the dates of the visit Jayasekera said it had only been postponed till December.

He gave no reasons for the postponement.
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