Miliband meets Sri Lankan counterpart, calls for cease-fire

Miliband meets Sri Lankan counterpart, calls for cease-fireColombo, Apr. 29 : British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and urged him and the Sri Lankan Government to put a cease-fire in place.

Bogollagama is reported to have told Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that Colombo is doing everything possible to save innocent Tamil civilians trapped in a six kilometre area along with the rebel LTTE in the northern part of the country.

He also rejected suggestions that LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran has escaped from the country, and added that his concern was for the civilian population and not for Prabhakaran.

The British and French foreign ministers are on a one-day trip to Sri Lanka amid efforts to secure a truce between the army and rebels. Miliband and Kouchner will meet top officials and visit an area where displaced people are living in camps.

The Ministers are to visit Vavuniya, where many of the displaced people are living

Earlier, the Sri Lankan Government barred the entry of Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, prompting the Scandanevian nation to recall its envoy for consultations.

The Czech presidency of the EU called the decision a "grave mistake".

Sri Lanka has had tense relations with the Scandinavian former monitors of its peace process, though its main problems have been with the former principal mediator, Norway.

Sri Lanka said it was taken by surprise by the EU''s strong reaction over Bildt, who it said would be welcome to visit next month.

The British and French ministers were visiting at the foreign ministry''s invitation, while very little notice of Bildt''s plans had been given, a Sri Lankan official said.

The Sri Lankan military has restricted Tamil Tiger rebels to a six sq km (5 sq miles) area of land in the north of the islands and believes it is close to defeating them.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped in the area, and the EU and the UN have urged Sri Lanka to observe a pause in its campaign to let them out. (ANI)