Feb 11, Colombo: Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday afternoon at Temple Trees and held discussions with the President.
The discussion focused on the Sri Lankan government's ongoing preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that is to take place in November of this year, President's media unit said.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Monitoring MP of Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vass Gunawardena and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga were present at the discussion.
Sharma also met task force heads and External Affairs Ministry officials today and confirmed that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be held in Sri Lanka this year.
He had confirmed the location of the summit as Colombo during the meeting and had reviewed the ongoing preparations for the holding of the CHOGM.
Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Richard Uku has also told the local media that Sharma has confirmed that CHOGM would be held in Sri Lanka.
External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama told the media that the meeting with the Ministry officials lasted for more than 90 minutes and heads of some 15 task forces and other officials attended the meeting.
The Secretary-General's visit to Sri Lanka comes amid calls by Canada and other special interest groups to boycott the CHOGM in Sri Lanka and the uncertainty of Britain whether it will attend the 54-nation summit.
During his visit, the Secretary-General will review organizational preparations for CHOGM and discuss possible outcomes that Sri Lanka and Commonwealth leaders will want to achieve at the summit, the Commonwealth Secretariat said in a statement Sunday.
"We want the 2013 summit to achieve significant outcomes for all members. It should show ways in which all Commonwealth citizens - be they city dwellers or residents of remote communities - can increasingly become beneficiaries of national development and growth, and be confident that they can shape their societies through democratic culture and processes. Development and democracy are mutually reinforcing," his spokesman said.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed to boycott the 2013 summit in Sri Lanka unless it improves its human rights record.
Britain's' Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt said the UK has not yet decided on level of any attendance at CHOGM.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)