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Monday, November 11, 2013 - 08.06 GMT

SL has made lot of progress – Aus PM


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott won’t be joining other world leaders in a boycott of the Commonwealth summit, saying Australia shouldn’t be giving lectures to other countries about human rights.

The prime ministers of Canada and India are boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will be opened by Prince Charles in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Friday.

Other leaders including British PM David Cameron have resisted domestic political pressure not to make the trip, arguing it is better to engage the island nation rather than isolate it.

Mr Abbott, who will be in Colombo on Friday after the first week of parliament in Canberra , said he respected the Commonwealth as an institution.

“I certainly don’t want us to trash one of the very long-standing and important bodies that we are a senior member of,” Mr Abbott said on Monday.

Sri Lanka had been through a horrific civil war involving atrocities on both sides, but he was “not inclined to go overseas and give other countries lectures”.

“My understanding is that ordinary civil society is resuming in the Tamil parts of Sri Lanka ,” he said.

“I will be urging the Sri Lankan government to respect everyone’s rights but I will also be acknowledging a lot of progress has been made.”

Mr Abbott said Sri Lanka had been cooperative in taking back people arriving by boat and Australia needed to maintain the “best possible relations” with the country.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, who will also be in Colombo this week, said she was encouraging all Commonwealth nations to attend the CHOGM and engage with Sri Lanka.

“Progress has been made (on human rights), but there’s clearly more to be done,” she said, AAP reported.






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Last modified: November 11, 2013.

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