Sri Lanka Embassy In Libya To Remain Closed
By Dinouk Colombage
The Sri Lankan embassy will continue to remain closed in Libya, despite the death of Mohammed Gadaffi, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Sarath Dissanayake said. Dissanayake explained that Sri Lanka’s interests in Libya will be monitored by its Mission in Cairo.
Sri Lanka was one of the last embassies to withdraw its staff from Libya following the start of the war several months ago. “With the commencement of the NATO bombing campaign in Libya back in March embassies from around the world evacuated its staff, Sri Lanka was one of the last to do so’ according to Sarath Dissanayake, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs.
He explained that despite Gaddafi being killed and the National Transitional Council declaring the war over, the embassy will remain closed for the time being. ‘The NTC has suggested that warring factions are still in the country, until the situation improves we will not be sending back the embassy staff,” he said.
When asked whether this meant diplomatic ties with Libya had been frozen, Dissanayake responded that relations between the two countries will continue. ‘Sri Lanka’s interests in Libya will be monitored by our embassy in Cairo’.
Dissanayake stressed that the embassy remaining closed was not an indication of the government’s attitude towards the new government taking over in Libya.
“The Sri Lankan government will continue to help the people of Libya rebuild their lives after a damaging war,” he said. Sri Lanka has had a well publicised relationship with Libya and the former president, Mohammed Gaddafi, in the past. In 2009 Gaddafi offered Sri Lanka US 500 million dollars worth of aid to assist in the rebuilding of the North and East following the end of the war.
Libya was one of the countries that supported Sri Lanka when the UN Human Rights Council sought a resolution against the country following the conclusion of the 30 year civil war.
Earlier this year Sri Lanka turned to Libya’s defence, including that of then President Gaddafi, as the government officially condemned the bombing of the main cities by NATO bombers. In March hundreds of protesters gathered outside the UN office in Colombo demanding that the Western-led forces halt the bombing campaign over Libya.