Foreign Ministry writes…
Referring to our last Sunday’s page one lead story headlined “Top diplomat to be expelled,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says:
“Responding to questions raised by the media on this report, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama stated that the question of expelling the UN Resident Representative was never contemplated or discussed as there was no reason whatsoever to consider such a move.
“The Government of Sri Lanka has always worked in partnership with the UN and has consistently acknowledged and appreciated the role played by the UN system in Sri Lanka.
“Mr. Neil Buhne, the UN Resident Representative has continued to maintain a close and cordial relationship with the Government of Sri Lanka and other agencies. The Government is closely engaged with the UN at this critical time and appreciates the active contribution and assistance extended to Sri Lanka towards emergency relief operations in the north.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs has dismissed the said news report as a non-issue.”
Our writer’s note: Though Foreign Minister Bogollagama denies our story and says everything is hunky-dory with the UN Resident Representative, he does not deny the gist of our story that Neil Buhne was summoned to the Ministry the previous Thursday and given a dressing down in the presence of French and British ambassadors for his role in leaking unauthenticated statistics about alleged Sri Lanka Army fire killing nearly 6,500 Tamil civilians and wounding more than double that number since January this year to a selected few Western embassies in Colombo, which was then onward leaked to the international media.
We also know at this juncture that Sri Lanka cannot possibly expel the top UN official here for the simple reason we need the UN help to look after the massive flood of civilians escaping from LTTE clutches in the NFZ since Monday, April 20.
If everything is so good with the UN how was it that the Foreign Secretary was quoted in a daily newspaper in its Page One lead story of Monday May 4 as stating: “It is disturbing that an entity of the UN or an individual attached to the UN should be surreptitiously collecting information on a member state and then leaking it to selected embassies or placing it on the web despite the fact that the information is unverified and the sources are dubious.”