British political leaders visit Jaffna

[TamilNet, Friday, 05 September 2003, 19:46 GMT]
The deputy leader of the opposition in the British Parliament, Mr. Michael Ancram, and former treasurer of the Conservative Party, Lord Ashcroft, Friday arrived in Jaffna and held discussions with the Government Agent, Mr.S.Pathmanathan, representatives of the international and local non-governmental organizations, and heads of government departments at the Jaffna district secretariat, sources in Jaffna said.

The British Conservative party politicians on arrival at the Palaly military air base Friday morning were briefed by the Sri Lanka Army's Jaffna area commander and senior officials in Palaly about the ground situation, security sources said.

At the conference held at the Jaffna district secretariat later, Mr.Pathmanathan briefed the visiting British leaders about the difficulties faced by the people of Jaffna district even after the ceasefire agreement came into operation, sources said.

Brit Pols in Jaffna
British politicians Mr.Ancram ( l), GA Mr.Pathmanathan and Lord Ashcroft (r) participating at the conference at Jaffna district secretariat


Mr.Pathmanathan pointed out to the British politicians the urgent need for providing assistance to the fishing community of the district, which has been badly affected by the two-decade-old war. "Jaffna fishermen still use traditional way of fishing instead of adopting modern techniques. Poaching in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka has very badly affected the local fisher folk," said Mr.Pathmanathan.

Several government officials based in Jaffna pointed out that only about ten percent of the landmines, unexploded ordnance and other explosives buried in the peninsula had been removed.

They brought to the notice of the UK politicians that priority should be given to rebuild destroyed civilians houses, restoring drinking water schemes, sanitation and industries due to the twenty years old war, sources said. Michael Ancram
Deputy leader of the opposition in British parliament Mr.Michael Ancram speaking to journalists


Representatives of international organizations such as Care International, German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and the Halo Trust demining group participated at the discussion. The visiting leaders later met the representatives of the Jaffna bases Humanitarian Agencies Consortium and Peoples Organizations' Federation, sources said

Visiting politicians thereafter visited the Muslim areas of Ariyalai, Pashaiyoor, Navatkuli and Gurunagar in Jaffna town, sources said.

Responding to a question from local journalists Mr. Michael Ancram said the decision to ban the LTTE in the United Kingdom was taken by the British government and there was no involvement of party politics in this issue. His country would continue its support to the initiative taken by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE in achieving peace and a lasting political solution, sources said

 

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