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UK’s Conservative Party clarified stance on SL: FM Says SL Mission in UK made strong representation to Tory

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5 December 2019 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Foreign Relations Ministry yesterday said Sri Lankan Mission in the UK reached out to the Conservative Party over its manifesto content related to Sri Lanka and the party has clarified its reference on ‘two-state solution’ was made only to the Middle East and not to Sri Lanka or Cyprus.   

Earlier, MP Udaya Gammanpila said the UK’s Conservative Party in its manifesto had sought for a mandate to create two states in Sri Lanka and that the High Commission officials have not taken action to oppose it or to inform the Foreign Relations Minister of Sri Lanka over the issue.   


A paragraph on page 53 of the Conservative party manifesto which refers to Sri Lanka is worded as, “We will continue to support international initiatives to achieve reconciliation, stability and justice across the world, and in the former conflict zones such as Cyprus, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, where we maintain our support for a two-state solution.”   
Issuing a statement yesterday in response to MP Gammanpila’s remarks, the Foreign Relations Ministry said the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK has made immediate steps to make strong representation to the Conservative Party.   
“Following publication of the manifesto, the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK in consultation with the Foreign Relations Ministry took immediate steps to make strong representation to the Co-Chair of the Conservative Party James Cleverly with regard to the distortion contained in the manifesto in its reference to Sri Lanka. This was conveyed through letter by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in the UK Manisha Gunasekera on November 27. The High Commissioner affirmed that the reference to Sri Lanka as a country which requires a two-state solution is unacceptable, and has never been the position of any party in the UK. She reaffirmed that successive British Governments led by all parties have always supported peace and reconciliation in a united Sri Lanka. The High Commissioner therefore requested that the paragraph be suitably amended to accurately reflect the Conservative party position on Sri Lanka,” the ministry said.   
Subsequent to representation by the High Commissioner through the above submission as well as through outreach to senior representatives of the Conservative party, the Ministry said the Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Paul Scully issued a clarification on the subject to the High Commissioner by his email communication of November 27.   
The clarification says, ‘The party’s position regarding Sri Lanka has not changed... To be absolutely clear, the two-state line in the section was intended to refer only to the Israel-Palestine situation in the Middle East (as is stated policy). The commitments to Sri Lanka and Cyprus were simply about continuing existing efforts to support peace and reconciliation in divided societies.’   


The ministry said Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the UK through a public post on Facebook on November 30 has further added, “The subsequent reference to a two-state solution refers to the Middle East, NOT to Cyprus or Sri Lanka. I have been in contact with Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and he has confirmed this.”   


Meanwhile, Conservative party’s Deputy Chair Paul Scully has in his twitter message of December 3 once again reiterated this position of the Conservative party and stated, ‘There is no Conservative manifesto commitment relating to the makeup of governance of Sri Lanka. … two-state relate only to Middle East.’   


The Foreign Relations Ministry said it is of the view that these statements would clarify the position of the Conservative party on the issue as well as action taken by the Ministry and the High Commission in London to correct the distortion.     

 


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