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Kadirgamar meets British Foreign Secretary

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar met Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK on Thursday at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At an hour long meeting, issues of mutual interest to the two countries were discussed.

Kadirgamar briefed Straw on the current status regarding the resumption of peace talks between the Government and the LTTE, the Foreign Ministry in Colombo said in a press release yesterday.

On the question of apparel exports to Europe, he sought the Untied Kingdom's support for a favourable revision of the General System of Preferences (GSP), on the lines suggested by Sri Lanka, after the lapse of the Multi Fibre Agreement at the end of this year.

Since Britain is a dialogue partner of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IORARC), Kadirgamar suggested that the UK be represented at a senior level at the forthcoming Council of Ministers meeting in Colombo next month, which Sri Lanka will be chairing.

The Foreign Secretary referred to issues pertaining to immigration and requested that early progress be made on the arrangement for the repatriation of Sri Lankan citizens who have no right to enter or remain in the UK.

The British Minister agreed with Kadirgamar that the provision of English language training for university students in Sri Lanka should be considered a high bilateral priority and emphasised that the UK would be in a position to assist in this regard.

He also briefed Minister Kadirgamar on the situation in Iraq.

Kadirgamar also addressed a luncheon meeting on 'Sri Lanka on Today', on Thursday at the Royal Commonwealth Society Headquarters organised jointly by the Royal Commonwealth Society and the High Commission of Sri Lanka in the UK.

He provided an overview of political and economic developments in Sri Lanka, which included an analysis of the recently held general elections in Sri Lanka and India.

He also discussed Sri Lanka's involvement in various UN and regional fora.

The Foreign Minister fielded a number of questions relating to the role of the Commonwealth, and its possible contribution to UN reforms, and the present situation of the peace talks in Sri Lanka.

The meeting was well attended and included 15 heads of Mission from Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mayanmar, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania and the Arab League.

There were also participants from the Missions of China, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and UAE. Officials from Commonwealth institutions, representatives from NGOs and the media also participated.

The meeting was chaired by Baroness Flather, a member of the UK House of Lords.

Later, Minister Kadirgamar called on Baroness Amos, Leader of the House of Lords, who briefed him on the ongoing process of constitutional reform, including the envisaged reform of the House of Lords, review of the criminal justice system of the UK, the role of the Lord Chancellor and the higher judiciary.

Minister Kadirgamar briefed her on the situation of the peace talks in Sri Lanka.

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