Sri Lanka’s Saudi envoy denies recall move

RIYADH, Aug 8, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia said Wednesday his imminent reposting was not related to a report criticising his handling of a mission seeking clemency for a teenager condemned to death. A.M.J Sadiq told AFP he was scheduled to return to Columbo on Friday after having a transfer request accepted, dismissing a report he was being recalled.

“I’m not being recalled. I submitted a transfer request some months ago for personal reasons,” he said.

Last month, Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times newspaper claimed Sadiq was being recalled early following his failure to arrange official meetings for Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila in the run-up to a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Bhaila travelled to the ultra-conservative kingdom last month to try to secure clemency for Rizana Nafeek, a 19-year-old Sri Lankan convicted of strangling her employer’s baby in 2005.

Sadiq said Bhaila did meet officials from Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry as well as religious leaders and senior members of the murdered baby’s tribe, who promised to approach the baby’s parents to try to secure a pardon.

Sadiq said his replacement had yet to be assigned and that he would spend his remaining time in Saudi