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Sri Lankan monks protest British FM’s visit

[Xinhua, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:03 No Comment]

A group of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks protested against Britain here Wednesday as Foreign Minister David Miliband is making a 24-hour visit to the island.


    Activists of ultra nationalist JHU or the Heritage Party gathered opposite the British High Commission while Miliband was being received by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.


    A group of around 150 including JHU’s leading legislators were present at the demonstration.


    "Miliband is a representative of terrorists. He is here to help (Tamil Tiger rebels’ leader) Prabhakaran," Udaya Gammanpila, a JHU spokesman told the gathering.


    Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner arrived in the island in the early hours of Wednesday for the visit.


    They would meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and travel to the northern town of Vavuniya to look at welfare centers for the war-displaced civilians.


    "Britain did not provide even a biscuit to the displaced, but trying to help the terrorists," the JHU spokesman added.


    Britain and France, both with a large Tamil diaspora, have been calling for a ceasefire in the battle against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.


    The Anglo-French foreign ministers’ visits came closely on the heels of a visit by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, who failed to reach an agreement with the Sri Lankan government on the access to the conflict area by the UN.


    The international focus on Sri Lanka has been raised since last week when a large number of Tamil civilians trapped in the northern battle zone escaped into government-controlled territory.


    The Sri Lankan government said its combat operations against the LTTE in the north had reached their conclusion and the security forces would end the use of heavy weapons which could cause civilian causalities, but it clarified later that its operation of rescuing civilians would continue.

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