The government today expressed confidence that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo next year will go ahead smoothly.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka looks forward to welcoming all Commonwealth leaders and delegates to the country for the summit.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already threatened to withdraw from CHOGM in Sri Lanka next year over alleged human rights abuses.
Rajapaksa and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma on Friday announced that the next CHOGM will be held in Colombo from 15 to 17 November 2013.
CHOGM is held every two years and is the Commonwealth’s highest consultative and policy-making body. Commonwealth leaders agreed on Sri Lanka as the 2013 host for the meeting when they met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009. They reaffirmed this decision at the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, Australia.
“As a committed member of the Commonwealth family, Sri Lanka is pleased to be hosting CHOGM. The Commonwealth shares a strong commitment to the twin pillars of democracy and development. We look forward to welcoming all Commonwealth leaders and delegates to our country for what I am confident will be a successful and mutually beneficial summit in true Commonwealth spirit,” Rajapaksa said.
The External Affairs Ministry quoted Rajapaksa as saying Sri Lanka looks forward to sharing experiences in areas of collective interest, including rural development, youth empowerment and people-centred socio-economic growth within the Commonwealth family.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that CHOGM brings together leaders representing around a quarter of the world’s countries, and a third of the world’s population.
“CHOGM is an opportunity for Commonwealth leaders to work on common approaches to the national and global challenges of our times, to find paths to peace and prosperity for all, and to deliberate on how this exceptional organisation can continue to serve the world better,” the External Affairs Ministry quoted the Secretary-General as saying.
He said that the Commonwealth unites governments and people around practical action on shared values and principles, mutually supporting one another in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.