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Home > Tamil Eelam Struggle for Freedom > International Frame & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > United Kingdom > Sri Lankan minister launches angry attack on David Miliband
Sri Lankan minister launches angry attack on David Miliband
Dean Nelson in Colombo,
Sri Lanka's defence minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa has launched an angry verbal attack on Britain's foreign secretary David Miliband, accusing him of basing his policy on Tamil Tiger propaganda.
Mr Rajapaksa, who is known as a passionate and feisty advocate of completely crushing the Tamil Tigers and capturing its leadership, said Mr Miliband had interrupted him during their meeting.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the president's brother raged at the co-ordinated pressure being put on his government by the international community and singled out this week's visit of Mr Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, his French counterpart, as a "waste of time".
He spoke after reports of a "stand up row" between him and Mr Miliband during a meeting in Colombo in which the Foreign Secretary was trying to persuade the Sri Lankan government to declare a ceasefire to allow civilians trapped in the fighting to leave.
"Maybe it's his way but I don't mind his attitude or his ways. My issue is the present situation and why he should interfere in these things. That's what I told him. People in this country approve of what the president is doing and a leader must listen to people in his own country not the foreign minister of the UK," he said.
On the eve of Mr Miliband�s visit to Sri Lanka, Colombo denied a visa to Carl Bildt, Sweden�s foreign minister, who was hoping to join the peace mission, sparking a row with the European Union.
A Sri Lankan foreign ministry official indicated that Colombo felt it had already done enough by letting in Miliband and Kouchner.
Mr Rajapaksa said Britain and other members of the international community were now plaguing Sri Lanka with "unnecessary" visits to please the Tamil communities in their own countries but had not been so vocal when the Tamil Tigers had assassinated top Sri Lankan politicians and innocent civilians.
"In Mr Miliband's constituency there are many Tamils and they want to save the LTTE leadership, not civilians. It's a joke. We have proved we can save these civilians by rescuing 200,000. So why so many foreign ministers in this indecent hurry?
"When Prabhakaran [the LTTE leader] killed so many innocent civilians, no foreign minister came or put pressure on the LTTE. Where was Mr Miliband? What happened to him? Was he sleeping? We're just wasting our time with these dignitaries and VIPs coming to this country over and over again because of your internal problem to satisfy their [Tamil] diaspora," he said.
The two men had apparently clashed when Mr Miliband said he had received reports that army shelling was killing civilians. Mr Rajapaksa accused him in turn of believing BBC reports which he claimed were influenced by Tamil Tiger propaganda.
The British High Commission in Colombo denied it had been a row but admitted there had been an "open and frank exchange of views and strong opinions were aired".
A spokesman for Mr Miliband said he was not aware of there being a Tamil community in the Foreign Secretary's South Shields constituency.
"I take some exception to the suggestion that the Prime Minister, David Miliband, Bernard Kouchner, Hillary Clinton or the ministers of the G8 and European Union are motivated in this by electoral politics rather than genuine humanitarian concern," he said.
It is not the first time Mr Miliband has upset government ministers during a foreign trip. Earlier this year, the Indian Government lodged a complaint about his "aggressive" and "arrogant" manner during a visit to the country. A senior official spokesman said the Government had been irritated by the Foreign Secretary's attitude, adding: "He did not come across as the foreign minister of a friendly nation".