- PM’s office says visit to Italy is to attend G-20 Interfaith Forum
- Visit will be restricted to city of Bologna and no visit to Vatican
- PM will not hold any discussions on Easter Sunday carnage
By JAMILA HUSAIN
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has not sought a meeting with Pope Francis and neither will he or his delegation be visiting the Vatican during the Prime Minister’s visit to Italy which begins today, the Daily Mirror learns.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa left for Italy this morning along with Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris and Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage to attend the G-20 Interfaith Forum.
The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Yoshitha Rajapaksa and the Prime Minister’s Secretary Gamini Senarath were included in the 13 member delegation which left for Italy, officials from the Prime Minister’s Office told Daily Mirror.
The others included protocol officers from both the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.
Sources from the Prime Minister’s Office said neither Rajapaksa nor Peiris had sought an audience with Pope Francis and neither will they be visiting the Vatican or hold discussions over the Easter Sunday attacks or brief anyone over the ongoing investigations.
The purpose of the visit is the G-20 Interfaith Forum at which the Prime Minister will deliver the keynote address. Even in his speech there is no mention of the probe of the Easter Sunday blasts, the Daily Mirror learns.
The visit will be restricted to the city of Bologna where the Forum is being held.
The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith yesterday criticized moves by the Prime Minister and Peiris to meet the Pope saying it was to mislead the Pope and international community over the Easter Sunday investigations and this was a move to save those behind the attacks.
He said this was a conspiracy being carried forward in a tactful manner.
Rajapaksa and his delegation will return back to the country on September 16 and on the sidelines of the Summit, Rajapaksa will hold discussions with the Italian government as well as meet world leaders.
- He said this was a conspiracy being carried forward in a tactful manner