Colombo, May 1 (ANI): Sri Lanka's Defence Minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa has launched an angry verbal attack on British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, accusing him of basing his policies on Tamil Tiger propaganda.
Rajapaksa, who is known as a passionate and feisty advocate of completely crushing the Tamil Tigers and capturing its leadership, said Miliband had interrupted him during their meeting.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he raged at the coordinated pressure being put on Colombo by the international community and singled out this week's visit of Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as a "waste of time".
He spoke after reports of a "stand up row" between him and Miliband during a meeting in Colombo in which the Foreign Secretary was trying to persuade Colombo 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.
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 Miliband said he had received reports that army shelling was killing civilians. 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". (ANI)