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Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 8.38 GMT
UK affirms attending CHOGM, rejects calls for boycott


Rejecting the calls from some parliament members to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in November, the British government has affirmed that the Prime Minister will attend the summit since "it is the right thing for the Commonwealth."

During the debate on human rights in the Commonwealth at the House of Commons Wednesday some members objected to the British Government's decision to attend the summit in Colombo.

However the British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Hugo Swire addressing the issue said the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and he have decided to attend the meeting.

"That is the right thing for the Commonwealth-an organization we strongly support-which has a positive role to play in promoting freedom, democracy and human rights," Swire said.

He pointed out that at CHOGM in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, Sri Lanka offered to host CHOGM in 2011 but the Heads of Government decided not to accept the offer and decided that Australia should host CHOGM in Perth in 2011 and Sri Lanka should host in 2013.

The decision was reaffirmed in Perth and there was no widespread support among the Heads of Government for a change of location, the Minister of State pointed out.

A key test of Sri Lanka's progress will be the Northern Provincial Council elections on 21 September, Swire told the House and added that the government is pleased that Sri Lanka had taken a positive step forward and invited the Commonwealth and the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation have been invited to observe the elections.

The British Minister of State said the CHOGM will focus attention sharply on the work yet to be done to achieve the aims that the Sri Lankan Government themselves have agreed in follow-up to the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

"It will allow Commonwealth Governments to understand better the problems still affecting Sri Lanka and consider what support they, and the Commonwealth collectively, can offer," Swire noted.





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Last modified: September 12, 2013.

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