Sri Lanka envoy decision ‘not unilateral’: Britain

LONDON, February 13, 2009 (AFP) – Former colonial power Britain fought off Friday angry objections from Sri Lanka over London’s appointment of a special envoy to address the humanitarian needs of the war-torn country.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Thursday’s appointment of former defence secretary Des Browne was not made unilaterally and insisted discussions with the Sri Lankans were ongoing.

“The Foreign Secretary (David Miliband) spoke this morning to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“He explained the reasons the United Kingdom was proposing a special envoy and that this was not a unilateral decision.

“The Foreign Secretary will continue the consultations started by the Prime Minister’s letter of 20 January to President (Mahinda) Rajapakse in a further conversation with Foreign Minister (Rohitha) Bogollagama on Monday.”

Bogollagama vented his fury on Friday, saying Browne’s appointment would not be accepted by Colombo.

“It is tantamount to an intrusion into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and is disrespectful to the country’s statehood,” the minister told AFP, warning “there could be major repercussions” for relations with Britain.