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* British High Commissioner tours Sri Lanka's northern provinces
Fri, May 30, 2014, 07:01 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 30, Colombo: British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, John Rankin, toured the North Western, North Central and Northern Provinces on an official visit from 27-29 May, 2014. The High Commissioner visited Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Mannar and Puttalam.

The High Commissioner had constructive discussions with the Chief Minister of the North Central Province and the Mannar Government Agent and visited the Nuwara Wewa reservoir in Anuradhapura and the police academy in Negombo, the High Commission said in a statement.

"A major highlight of my visit was paying my respects at different places of worship," said the High Commissioner.

Rankin said he visited the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya and the Ruwanveliseya stupa in Anuradhapura, the historic Madhu church, the Thiruketheeswaram Temple in Mannar and the Grand Mosque in Puttalam.

"At each of these places of worship, I had helpful discussions with faith leaders about inter-faith harmony and community relations. Sri Lanka is lucky to have communities representing such a diversity of faiths, which participate and share in each other's celebrations. All those to whom I spoke made clear their concern about and opposition to religious extremism. This visit has reinforced my view that Sri Lanka's tradition of religious coexistence is particularly important today, as it can play a significant role in healing the wounds of the past.

Rankin also met different communities, including local NGOs, IDPs and women's groups, who openly spoke about their problems with the High Commissioner.

"Their stories were different but some of the issues that came up frequently were land, access to public services in their own language and social issues like domestic violence," Rankin noted.

He assured that the UK will continue to support projects that will bring about changes in these areas, including reconciliation, police training, advocating language rights, English language training and support for women's rights.

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