British, French, Swedish FMs to visit Sri Lanka

LONDON, April 26, 2009 (AFP) – The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Sweden will visit Sri Lanka on Wednesday, government officials in London said Sunday after Colombo rejected a ceasefire declared by Tamil Tiger rebels. “Foreign Secretary David Miliband, together with his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner and Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt, will visit (Sri Lanka) on Wednesday,” Downing Street said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown telephoned Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier Sunday to express his concern “about the plight of civilians in the conflict zone,” the statement added.

“He repeated his call for a ceasefire, and pledged a further 2.5 million pounds (2.7 million euros, 3.6 million dollars) for humanitarian aid for displaced persons,” it said.

Sri Lanka says it is on the verge of defeating Tamil rebels who are fighting to create an independent homeland in the north of the island nation, and who stand accused of holding thousands of civilians hostage.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said its ceasefire was “in the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis” and in response to international appeals.

The British government said last week that juni