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Government will oppose Sri Lanka hosting talks

[Reuters, Friday, 27 November 2009 08:32 No Comment]

Gordon Brown boards a plane en route to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters Britain will oppose Sri Lanka hosting the next Commonwealth summit because of concerns over its conduct of the war against Tamil fighters and its treatment of refugees, a government source said on Friday.

Leaders of the group of 53 nations, mainly former British colonies, meet in Trinidad and Tobago from Friday and one of the issues to be discussed is who will host the next summit in 2011. Sri Lanka is one of a number of countries bidding to host the next summit.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s opposition to Sri Lanka getting the honour could cause friction at the meeting.

"The prime minister has real concerns about Sri Lanka’s bid. We simply cannot be in a position where Sri Lanka — whose actions earlier this year had a huge impact on civilians, leading to thousands of displaced people without proper humanitarian access — is seen to be rewarded for its actions," a British government source said.

"The prime minister will talk to other leaders about this, but is clear this won’t wash," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Britain criticised the conduct of the war earlier this year and remains concerned about the situation of about 130,000 displaced people in camps in Sri Lanka.

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