Sri Lanka has dodged a diplomatic bullet by not being included in the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London, to be held on the 26th of this month.
External Affairs Ministry secretary K. Amunugama said yesterday that Sri Lanka was not on the agenda for the CMAG.
In February this year External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris met Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma to try to dissuade him from including Sri Lanka on the agenda of the CMAG, despite pressure from countries such as Canada which had called for more accountability to be shown by the Lankan government. The inclusion of Sri Lanka in the Agenda would have caused greater uncertainty regarding Sri Lanka being the venue of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held at the end of this year.
The secretary made this statement in response to a question during media interactions following the second round of “Foreign Secretary Level Bilateral Consultations with Bangladesh”.
Bangladesh is the Chair of this year’s CMAG, which comprises Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, the Maldives, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.
Soon after Minister Peiris’s meetings in London, at the beginning of this year, he flew to Dhaka to ensure that Sri Lanka had the support of Bangladesh. However the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh Md. Shahidul Haque refused to answer any questions on the stance that Bangladesh will take with regard to Sri Lanka on the level of Commonwealth interaction and instead stated that his visit was one “between friends and that Sri Lanka would always be a friend of Bangladesh”.
During the discussions between the secretaries, the possibility of importing pharmaceuticals from Bangladesh on a government to government basis was discussed. The secretary also denied that injection vials produced in Bangladesh and imported to Sri Lanka had been contaminated.
The continuation of exchange of defence training between the two countries was also discussed.
Mr. Haque is on a three day visit to the country and will call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and meet with Minister Peiris, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and other government ministers. (Dianne Silva) (Pix and video by Nisal Baduge)