|President Maithripala Sirisena concludes official visit to the United Kingdom|
President Maithripala Sirisena concludes official visit to the United Kingdom
President Maithripala Sirisena concluded a historic official visit to the United Kingdom on 11th March, his second visit overseas since assuming office as President. As Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth, President Sirisena attended the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminister Abbey and the Commonwealth Day Reception hosted by Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma at Marlborough House and met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth and senior members of the Royal family.
On 11th March, President Sirisena and First Lady Jayanthi Sirisena had an audience with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. During the meeting, the Queen reminisced fondly of her first visit to Sri Lanka in 1954, soon after her coronation in 1953 and also her second visit to the country in 1981.
President Sirisena had a productive meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10, Downing Street. This was the first occasion when a Head of State of Sri Lanka was received at the official residence of the British Prime Minister since 1982. While commending the President for the achievements of his Government in the short term it had been in office, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that accountability and reconciliation issues would be successfully addressed through a domestic mechanism.
Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, Edward Miliband, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander and Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma also called on President Sirisena.
The Presidnet met members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka (APPGSL) at the House of Commons, religious leaders of all faiths, members of the UK branch of the Old Boys Association of Hidu College, Jaffna and representatives of all ethnic groups of the Sri Lankan expartiate community and shared his vision to build a united and inclusive Sri Lanka for which he solicited the support of the expatriate community.
President Sirisena visited the London Buddhist Vihara, the first Vihara established in the UK and presented a relic casket.
Separately, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met Phillip Hammond, Secretary of State for Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs and Desmond Swayne, Minister of State for International Development.
The Presidential delegation comprised Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs D.M. Swaminathan, Member of the Central Provincial Council Azath Salley and senior Foreign Ministry officials.