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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lanka, Canada in diplomatic dispute over ambassadors

Sri Lanka and Canada, which is calling upon member nations to boycott the Commonwealth summit in Colombo, are locked in a diplomatic wrangle over posting of envoys to their respective capitals. The Canadian External Affairs Ministry, diplomatic sources said yesterday, had placed on hold the agreemo to post Esala Weerakoon as Sri Lanka’s new High Commissioner in Canada. He is now Deputy Ambassador to the United States.

This move, the sources said, was until such time Sri Lanka accepted the credentials of Shely Whiting who has been designated as High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.  Canadian External Affairs Ministry officials have complained that she has not been afforded an opportunity so far to present her credentials. She arrived in Sri Lanka three months ago. At present Ms. Whiting is in Canada attending a heads of diplomatic mission conference in her country.

An agreemo is a memorandum from one nation to another agreeing to the appointment of an ambassador or envoy. It is only after such acceptance that a formal announcement is made of an appointment. Thereafter, the ambassador or high commissioner in question is required to present his or her credentials to the host government.

Mr. Weerakoon’s agreemo had been sent to the External Affairs Ministry in Ottawa more than three months ago, according to official sources in Colombo. He was to replace Chitrangani Wagiswara who is concluding her term there.

External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatillake Amunugama said presentation of credentials by envoys was done in groups and the next batch was due in early July. The Canadian High Commissioner and the new Indian High Commissioner-designate Y.K. Sinha would be in that batch, he said.

“As for Ambassador Weerakoon,” Mr. Amunugama said that “some countries take a long time to confirm agreemos.”Relations between Sri Lanka and Canada have been strained since Ottawa’s diplomatic moves to shift the CHOGM venue from Colombo. Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already declared he would not attend the Colombo summit until the Government “improves its human rights record.”
By Anthony David


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