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* Visiting British Foreign Minister tours Sri Lanka's North
Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 08:12 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 31, Colombo: British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for South Asia, Alistair arrived in Sri Lanka this morning on a two-day official visit. This is his second visit to the island.

During his two-day visit ahead of this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) which is to be held in Sri Lanka, the Minister will meet senior members of the government and opposition parties, the business community and INGOs and visit the North the British High Commission in Colombo said.

Minister Burt toured Sri Lanka's conflict-affected North Thursday and held a range of meetings with government officials and society leaders.

Mr. Burt, who opened a youth project designed to facilitate country-wide reconciliation today, was able to see developments that have taken place in the region since his last visit two years ago, and the work that remains to be done and talked to the people in the region.

The High Commission said the Foreign Minister visited the Keppapilavu relocation site and observed the continuing challenges faced daily by those who were displaced by the conflict and expressed hope that they would soon be able to return to their homes, or to other suitable areas.

Opening a youth center for reconciliation, Sri Lanka Unites at Mulliayawelai, the British Minister has praised the efforts of young Sri Lankans towards peace and reconciliation.

"It is great to see young Sri Lankans leading efforts to heal wounds and to unite Sri Lankans of all backgrounds in the task of reconciliation and recovery," Mr. Burt has said.

This Sri Lanka Unites reconciliation center, together with others due to be established in other parts of the country, will help to bridge the divide between the North and the South, according to the visiting UK Minister.

"Such centers will foster communication and understanding across the island. Sri Lanka Unites is helping to empower young people to build a strong, stable, prosperous and united future. I am delighted to be able to support their efforts," he has noted.

In the North, the Minister also met the Mullaitivu Government Agent, N Vethanayakam, and NGOs working in the area. These included the HALO Trust, a British organization which is conducting de-mining in the North with £3 million of UK Government support.

The Minister is scheduled to deliver a guest lecture on "Sri Lanka: 2013 and beyond" at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies on Friday (February 01).



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