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Canada FM to attend CHOGM

2013 Jul 30

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird is expected to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena said today.

The MP said this when he met newspaper Editor and electronic media heads at Temple Trees for breakfast this morning.

Gunawardena said the government however hopes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as the head of state, will attend the key summit.

The MP said that more than 80 percent of the participants for CHOGM have confirmed their attendance at the summit.

He also said that advanced teams from the Commonwealth countries are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka over the next few days.

Gunawardena also said that that Sri Lanka expects USD 2 Billion investments from the summit.

The Canadian government had in April said it will not send a full delegation to the November summit in Sri Lanka.

Emma Welford, Spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade had told the Colombo Gazette at the time that Canada will continue to monitor events in Sri Lanka and do what it can to try to increase pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to make changes on the human rights issue.

“As the Prime Minister has stated very clearly, we expect our concerns to be addressed prior to the next Commonwealth Head’s of Government Meeting. However, given the current circumstances, it would be very difficult for this government to fully participate in this Summit,” Welford said.

Welford added that the Canadian government has spoken loud and clear on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka, including its concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes, lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community, and with the events that have taken place since the end of the civil war.

Earlier Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted that he would like to see this year’s Commonwealth summit moved out of Sri Lanka in protest over the country’s human rights record. (Colombo Gazette)

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