Statement – Sri Lanka

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in Parliamentary News

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): A British Foreign Secretary must be incredibly busy. I would like to just say to my right hon. Friend how proud I am of him for changing his diary and travelling thousands of miles in search of peace. The whole House is grateful for what he has done.

Echoing the sentiments of the shadow Foreign Secretary and the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey), I suggest that the IMF loan is important. In his conversation with Hillary Clinton this evening, I hope that my right hon. Friend will convey to her the feelings of the whole House on the matter. In all his conversations and the huge efforts that he is making, please will he not forget the Indian Government? It is vital that we keep in touch with the Foreign Minister of India. I know that India is in the middle of elections, but it has a crucial role to play in ensuring that there is peace in this troubled island. I thank my right hon. Friend again for all that he has done.

David Miliband: I am extremely grateful for the heartfelt thanks from my right hon. Friend although, as the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) said, there will be no reward for any of us unless there is some alleviation of the suffering in Sri Lanka. I know that that is very much my right hon. Friend’s position as well because he has campaigned long and tirelessly on this issue.

The IMF question will certainly be addressed in many of the conversations that occur about this issue, and the situation on the ground will be very important in those discussions.

I spoke to Foreign Minister Mukherjee last week, and although he is in the middle of the election campaign, he has given important priority to this issue. As my right hon. Friend says, India is a vital player when it comes to change in Sri Lanka. Notwithstanding the challenges of the election campaign, I spoke to the Indian high commissioner in Colombo last night. He reiterated the Indian Government’s concern, and I reiterated that I would soon be in touch again with Foreign Minister Mukherjee, because—election campaign, or no election campaign—this is obviously a matter of high concern to the Indian Government.