May 30, Colombo: The United Kingdom says it will continue to encourage the Sri Lankan government to respect human rights, promote meaningful reconciliation and agree a political settlement with the Tamil and other opposition parties.
Daniel Painter, the head of the political team at the British High Commission in Colombo said in a Foreign and Commonwealth Office blog posting that the UK's primary objective in Sri Lanka is to support the development of a stable and prosperous country, not simply because the Sri Lankan people deserve it, but also because it is UK's national interest to do so.
"This will help us protect and pursue our trade, education, migration and consular interests," the UK official, who accompanied the British High Commissioner John Rankin on a visit to the northwestern Sri Lanka Thursday, said.
Mr. Painter said the holding of elections in the North and the convincing victory by the opposition Tamil National Alliance, raised hopes and expectations about the prospects for reconciliation but the developments since then have dented that optimism.
"But the UK is continuing to support efforts to build the peace," the political officer said.
The UK official has returned to the north to visit UK funded projects across the province in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar and Puttalam that are helping Sri Lanka to manage its post-conflict challenges and foster reconciliation.
He noted that despite the impressive reconstruction and infrastructure development that has taken place in the north, the lack of economic opportunities presents real challenges for the young people in that part of the country.
"It is a world away from the development and growth I see (and hear) every day in Colombo," Mr. Painter wrote.
Observing that the youth in the country despite their different cultures and backgrounds, share the same aspirations for their personal development and fulfilment, The British official said the UK shares their vision and urged the government to agree to a political settlement with the Tamil and other opposition parties.