By Jamila Najmuddin
The Sri Lankan government and the European Union (EU) have agreed to meet again for further discussions following preliminary talks held in Brussels this week on continuing with the GSP plus facility, a EU spokesman told Daily Mirror online.
EU Trade Spokesman John Clancy said the delegation of high-level Sri Lankan officials held a preliminary exchange of views with European Commission officials following the announcement by the EU on 15th February of the decision for the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ benefits from Sri Lanka.
The delegation led by Romesh Jayasinghe, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with Commisisoner De Gucht and held a preliminary exchange of views. The EU spokesman however refused to elaborate further on what was discussed and if the talks so far were fruitful.
"The Commission remains committed to work with Sri Lanka to see whether the conditions for a reversal of such a decision are in place as a result of significant improvements on the effective implementation of the human rights conventions at issue. The Sri Lankans and EU counterparts agreed to meet again," John Clancy told Daily Mirror online via email.
Meanwhile in a statement released by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Brussels today, it stated that in their discussions on March 15, the Sri Lanka envisages a methodology of work, that would best permit the issues to be addressed in a purposeful manner.
The statement added that the delegation also met with Dr. Peter Zangl, the Director General of ECHO which is the Humanitarian Aid arm of the European Commission. While briefing the Director General on the current situation in Sri Lanka, it was underlined that “the humanitarian catastrophe” predicted by some quarters in the aftermath of the end of the conflict situation was successfully averted, followed-by an equally successful re-settlement of the bulk of the IDPs.
The statement added that the delegation also met with Madam Louise Arbour, President of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and former High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN. The delegation briefed the ICG President of the many positive economic and political developments taking place in Sri Lanka, with the end of the conflict situation.
The delegation during the rest of its stay will meet with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) serving on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committees of the European Parliament, the Human Rights Sub Committee, the South Asia delegation of the Parliament and the ‘Friends of Sri Lanka’ group.
The delegation will travel to Luxembourg to call on Vice-Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn and to have bi-lateral consultations at the Luxembourg Foreign Ministry.
Similar bi-lateral consultations have already taken place in Brussels with the Belgian Foreign Ministry, the statement said. (Daily Mirror online)