British PM to attend Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka

2013-05-05 08:00:02 GMT2013-05-05 16:00:02(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in November, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry announced on Sunday.

The announcement came even as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he may boycott the event over human rights concerns in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has been accused of committing human rights abuses during the final stages of the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels before the rebels were defeated in May 2009.

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Britain Chris Nonis however said that Sri Lanka enjoys strong support amongst the Commonwealth countries, represented by the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

He also recalled the unwavering support of all except one country, at recent meetings, which he said necessitates a depth and breadth of understanding that Commonwealth countries are at different stages of development, with a commonality of values and aspirations, as well as challenges and constraints.

The Commonwealth biennial meeting in Sri Lanka in November this year will be preceded by the Commonwealth People's Forum, the Commonwealth Youth Forum, and the Commonwealth Business Forum, and usually attracts several thousand delegates, and global media coverage.

It will provide the opportunity for the 54 heads to meet to discuss matters of global and Commonwealth concern, and agree collective policies and initiatives, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said.

Nonis said in the statement that although there had been intensive lobbying in the past year by anti-Sri Lanka activist groups with "collateral agendas," in particular in London, which is home to the Commonwealth Secretariat, they had not succeeded in their attempts to pressurize Commonwealth nations to shift the venue.

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