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* UK Under-Secretary expresses willingness to support Sri Lanka's resettlement efforts
Wed, Mar 10, 2010, 06:23 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 10, Colombo: The British government's Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service Sir Peter Ricketts, has expressed his country's willingness to support Sri Lanka to restore full freedom of movement to all IDPs, to complete the resettlement process and to help civilians rebuild their lives.

During a meeting with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama today, the high ranking British official had encouraged the Foreign Minister to allow humanitarian organizations to play a full role in this process.

Welcoming the progress made towards releasing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the camps in Vavuniya and resettling them in their homes, the Under-Secretary and the Foreign Minister had discussed efforts to reach a political solution to the causes of the ethnic conflict.

Sir Ricketts had commented that the end of the war and the recent strong mandate given to President Mahinda Rajapaksa had opened up an historic opportunity to make significant progress towards this goal.

The British official had added that the upcoming parliamentary elections were an important part of political efforts to resolve the conflict and that the UK supports the efforts of the Election Commissioner to ensure a free and fair poll.

On the issue of UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband's recent participation in the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) conference in London, Sir Ricketts had explained that Foreign and Commonwealth Office ministers and officials regularly engage with expatriate Sri Lankans from all communities to encourage them to support peaceful efforts to achieve peace in Sri Lanka.

The Under-Secretary pointed out that during his speech the Foreign Secretary had urged GTF members to maintain their commitment to peaceful methods and to support domestic attempts within Sri Lanka to achieve a political solution.

The Sri Lankan government strongly objected to the British Foreign Office on Miliband's participation at the GTF held in London.

During his visit Sir Ricketts met with the Foreign Minister, government officials, civil society groups, humanitarian agencies, and diplomats.

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