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Britain accords warm welcome to President

President Mahinda Rajapaksa(extreme right) with other heads of state, while visiting Britain for the Queen's Diamond Jubileee celebration.  Pic by Sudath Silva

He is brave. There is no need for any extra effort to prove his bravery as there are many brave moves throughout his political career. Not only is he brave but also courageous and known to be a man who makes the impossible possible. When it comes to his motherland... he is the first to defend her. When it comes to acting against forces that are against Sri Lanka, no one can stop him from facing any situation despite threats to his life.

Commitment

It was in the middle of last week that President Mahinda Rajapaksa stood before Sri Lankans who gathered opposite the Hilton hotel in Park Lane, showing his gratitude to them and his love for Sri Lanka. At a time when pro-LTTE Tamils were staging protests carrying LTTE flags and demanding the arrest of a President on alleged war crime charges during the end battle in 2009, he ignored the advice of Scotland Yard of 'not to go out' and met his countrymen to reiterate his commitment to the country.

Either the advice of the Police about the violent nature of the pro-LTTE protest, nor the cold weather could prevent him from speaking to Sri Lankans in favour of Sri Lanka and the President.

Speaking to Sri Lankans gathered opposite the hotel where he stayed during his visit to attend the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth he said he was prepared to make any sacrifice for the sake of the future generation.

Thanking the people, President Rajapaksa said their protest in favour of the country was a huge strength to him. " I will never allow any power or force to snatch away the hard won peace and freedom. I am prepared to make any sacrifice on behalf of the future generations to transform Sri Lanka into a super country and a force to reckon within the international arena", his statement gave strength to almost all expariates in Britain.

Courage

A Sri Lankan living in Britain on condition of anonymity said he didn't expect President Rajapaksa to come forward at such a crucial time, when pro-LTTE Tamils were staging protests.

"We were surprised when he came and spoke to us. It gave us courage and discouraged pro-LTTE Tamils voicing displeasure over his tour", he said.

However, the chain of protests by the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora has influenced organisers to cancel President Rajapaksa's keynote address in the morning session of the Commonwealth Economic Forum.

A press release issued by the President’s Media Division said members of the LTTE and their sympathisers in London carrying placards depicting false propaganda against Sri Lanka made a vain attempt to portray President Rajapaksa’s tour of London as an unsuccessful one as they did during his previous London visit, But he and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa attended the lunch with Commonwealth heads of State at the Blenheim Saloon inside Marlborough House in Central London held in honour of the Queen.

They were greeted by the Queen and she spent a brief moment with the Sri Lankan leader exchanging pleasantries. Hundreds of pro-LTTE Tamils gathered outside Marlborough House protesting Sri Lankan President's presence at the lunch.

President Rajapaksa met the British Prime Minister David Cameron during a reception hosted by the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma. The President apprised the British Prime Minister of the current situation in Sri Lanka and the progress made in the development of former conflict areas.

Commonwealth Secretary General

During the reception he also met several British parliamentarians and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma.

At the meeting with the Commonwealth Secretary-General, President Rajapaksa has briefed him on the current situation in Sri Lanka and the progress of development in the country. The Commonwealth Secretary-General has assured his support on behalf of the all Commonwealth nations for the President's endeavour to rebuild the country.

The President and the First Lady had also participated in a special thanksgiving service held as part of the Queen's jubilee celebrations at the St. Pauls Cathedral in London.

According to the Asian Tribune quoted Nirj Deva, Deputy Lord Lieutenant and also the Member of the European Parliament, who he met the President in London on June 5 said he saw him happy and in a good mood.

He said that the Sri Lankan President enjoyed himself. He was received warmly by the establishment. He was in the box seat and watched the concert. He had lunch with the Queen. He was also there at the church service at St. Paul's. He was treated warmly as a Head of a sovereign State.

British ties

“It was a happy visit for Sri Lanka President on the occasion of Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Relationship between Sri Lanka and Britain are getting closer said Nirj Deva.

After participating in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations President Rajapaksa flew to Rome. There he attended Poson celebrations held at the FAO Headquarters in Rome on June 7 as the special guest. The event was attended by the Chief Buddhist monk in Italy, Director General of FAO José Graziano da Silva, the diplomatic community and Buddhists living in Rome.

Buddhists in Rome extended a warm welcome to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is a widely accepted Buddhist leader in the world. Ambassador to Thailand in Rome Surapit Kiriputra in his speech made special mention of President Rajapaksa's recent visit to Thailand to attend the 2600th Sambuddathva Jayanthi celebrations and the speech delivered by the President on Buddhism.

Rome Buddhist Vihara

Venerable Molligoda Dheerananda Thera, Chief Incumbent of the Rome Buddhist Vihara said it was a significant day that Vesak was celebrated in Rome since it coincided with President's 42nd anniversary of entering parliament. The monks wished the President well and chanted Jaya Piritha to invoke blessings for the President.

Earlier, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was received by the Director General of FAO Jose Graziano da Silva at the FAO Head Quarters. A brief meeting was held between President Rajapaksa and his delegation and the FAO Director General.

Bishop Gino Reali hosted a dinner in honour of President Rajapaksa. Speaking about developments currently taking place in Sri Lanka, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith thanked President Rajapaksa for making Sri Lanka free of terrorism. " We breath freely and live fear free lives, thanks to the President. He has created history in Sri Lanka by bringing in peace. He has done so much for Sri Lanka".

"It is not an easy task for the President. But, he is courageous. He will take risks to build a new Sri Lanka. Be courageous in the choices you make. I am sure if you proceed like that you will succeed even more. We will support you", the Cardinal said.

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