Colombo tries to shift blame on mishandling Annan's itinerary
[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 January 2005, 23:47 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry in a statement issued on Sunday tried to shift the blame on mishandling itinerary of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit, which sparked controversy that Colombo blocked him from visiting LTTE-controlled areas in the Northeast to witness the devastating tsunami destruction. The Foreign Ministry said that the final itinerary was drawn only after the government authorities and UNDP's Resident Representative's Office reached an agreement in Colombo.
The Foreign Ministry said after it was known that the Secretary General was planning to visit Sri Lanka on his way from Jakarta Conference on Tsunami Disaster, the UNDP office in Colombo in its official request dated January 3, for an itinerary, had proposed that Annan visit Hambantota, Amparai and Trincomalee.
''The government whilst agreeing to these proposals also offered that the Secretary General consider visiting Jaffna and Batticaloa as well,'' the statement said.
It said that following consultation with relevant line Agencies and ''taking into account the security, programming and time considerations involved the UNDP office and the government authorities eventually agreed on an itinerary for the Secretary General that included an aerial survey of the affected coastline and on-site inspections at Hambantota and Trincomalee''.
''The government also offered access and air transport facilities to 'any member' of the Secretary General's delegation to any Tsunami affected areas in the country including the Mullaitivu, an area visited by UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Carol Bellamy, a few days ago,'' it said.
''The government, therefore, rejects any assertion by any quarter to politicise this essentially humanitarian Mission initiated by the Secretary General and gladly hosted by the government of Sri Lanka,'' it said.
The Foreign Ministry, however, has not disputed the international media reports which said that the government has stopped the Secretary General from visiting the LTTE-held areas.