Britain seeks peace, more trade

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 November 2000, 17:09 GMT]
Mr.Peter Hain, British Foreign Office Minister Thursday expressed happiness that Sri Lanka's Prime Minister has taken up his offer to look more closely at the initiatives which led to the peace agreement in Northern Ireland "where a final constitutional settlement followed, rather than preceded negotiations." The Minister also called for increased trade between Sri Lanka and Britain, particularly in the field of information technology where he said the UK could "rival the US and Japan."

In a statement concluding his two-day visit to Sri Lanka, Mr. Hain addressed a press conference at the British High Commission. He re-iterated his support expressed in his speech to the British Council in Colombo Wednesday for negotiations to end Sri Lanka's protracted conflict.

"In my opinion, there is no alternative to dialogue. Different conflicts require different solutions. There is no single and universal formula for peace," he said.

"This is a time for making peace not war. Political leaders should stand up and be counted and I hope there will be much greater energy and urgency from all concerned, including the LTTE to find a solution," he said.

"I am glad that the Prime Minister has taken up my offer to look more closely at the initiatives, which led to the peace agreement in Northern Ireland where a final constitutional settlement followed, rather than preceded negotiations," he said.

"Britain cares very much about Sri Lanka," Hain said. "We keep in close touch with both Norway and India, and are fully supportive of the Norwegian efforts to facilitate a dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE."

Sri Lanka, he said "is also an important trade and investment partner for the UK."

Britain is currently second in the league table of foreign investors in Sri Lanka, with an investment of around US$190 million. "I would like to see the UK and Sri Lanka further strengthen our economic and business ties," Hain added.

He said Britain and Sri Lanka would form an alliance called "Get Connected" to develop information technology teaming British universities, research bodies and companies with Sri Lankan ones.

"I have agreed with both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industrial Development Professor G.L.Peiris to take this forward," he said.

 

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