Canadian special envoy Senator Hugh Segal says he has not lost respect for External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris despite the differences of opinion they had during a seminar in Colombo last Friday.
Senator Segal told the Colombo Gazette that it was not surprising for him and Minister Peiris to disagree on Canada’s position with regards to the impeachment of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and on Commonwealth values
“That the Foreign Minister and I disagree on my government’s position re the impeachment and Commonwealth values is not surprising. Nor does it diminish in any way my great respect and affection for him or my respect for the people of this magnificent country. Your Minister of Foreign Affairs and I share a profound respect for diversity in the Commonwealth. Diversity of views, freedom of expression are hallmarks of the Commonwealth values we share across the Commonwealth family,” he said as he wound up a visit to Sri Lanka over the weekend.
The External Affairs Minister had criticized some of the comments made by the Canadian envoy during the seminar, particularly on Sri Lanka’s human rights situation.
Senator Hugh Segal said that last week he had meetings with civil society in Colombo which he says were informative while he also visited the north and met the Army, civil society and the government agent in Jaffna.
He also visited Kilinochchi and said he was deeply inspired following his meeting with the brave people rebuilding their lives and those helping these people.
In Colombo on Friday he said he had full, frank and largely cordial discussions with Ministers and parliamentarians.
Yesterday (Saturday) he had civil society consultations in Galle which he told the Colombo Gazette were of great and informative value.
On Friday, during his speech at the seminar held at the Lakshman Kadirgamar institute Senator Hugh Segal said Canada believes that as a prospective host of the Commonwealth summit in November, Sri Lanka could embrace the opportunity, perhaps to take and make real initiatives on accountability on both sides, on publishing a list of detainees, on demilitarizing wherever possible and appropriate, on moving to a more accelerated program of reconciliation. (Colombo Gazette)
Report by Easwaran Rutnam