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Fox's 'influence with the Sinhalese elite'

Writing in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday, Randeep Ramesh, the paper's former South Asian correspondent for over six years, highlighted Liam Fox's dubious relationship with Sri Lanka's Sinhalese rulers.

Extracts reproduced below, see full article here.

"Fox had first arrived in 1995, landing at the palm-fringed airport as a junior Foreign Office minister. A little more than a year later, such was his influence with the Sinhalese elite, who essentially run the country, that he had persuaded the rival parties not to attempt to outflank each other while negotiating peace or ceasefires with the brutal rebel separatists of the LTTE."

"During a chance meeting in Singapore in 2007, Fox – by then shadow secretary of state for defence – fell in with one of Rajapaksa's lieutenants, the foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama. He was back in the game."

"[2009] Concerned that the Sri Lankan army was indiscriminately bombing and killing Tamil civilians, the west ratcheted up pressure on the regime. Fox, a neocon in outlook, took a rather different view. And his new friends turned to him for help."

"At the beginning of 2009, the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, attempted to send a special envoy to the island and the US offered to evacuate the 100,000 civilians trapped in the last 20 square miles of territory under LTTE control."

"The foreign minister told Fox, who happened to be on a visit to Colombo at the time, that the government was declining "offers of assistance" until it had "cleared the north from the clutches of the terrorists".

Liam Fox is once again under the spotlight after it was revealed that his close friend, Adam Werritty, had accompanied him on official trips and had been handing out business cards describing himself as the Defence Secretary's advisor.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has responded to pressure from the opposition, and asked the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, to oversee an investigation into the whole affair.

Fox had previously asked the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence to conduct an inquiry.

Cameron has reportedly demanded the initial findings be on his desk by Monday.

See our recent posts:
'Liam Fox had been warned by MOD'
'Veritable Questions'

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