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Too close for British comfort

On Wednesday we highlighted British Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s links with President Mahinda Rajapakse's government, and the minister's insistence on meeting the Sri Lankan leader this week despite the growing chorus of demands he be investigated for war crimes.

It seems the much-publicised, yet supposedly 'private', meeting has also made the British government uncomfortable: The Times newspaper reported Thursday that Dr. Fox has been warned by Foreign Office officials.

The paper quoted the officials as saying Foreign Secretary William Hague might ‘have to take action' if the relationship became ‘too close’ – though what either meant were not spelled out.

"William might have to step in if this continues," a source told The Times' Deputy Political Editor Sam Coates.

Meanwhile, the President Rajapakse's official website published photographs of the 'private' meeting with Dr. Fox, including the one above, at the luxury hotel the Sri Lanka leader set up base during his week-long visit to London, The Dorchester.

The government also distributed photos of President Rajapakse's meeting with British MPs and MEPs at The Dorchester, including this one:

The group included Lord Naseby of the Conservative Party, who is also the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka (APPG-SL), Lord Sheikh (Conservative), Lord  Dholakia (Liberal Democrat), Lord Grocott (Labour), Lord Wallace of Saltair (Liberal Democrat), Nirj Deva (MEP), Geoffrey Van Orden (MEP), James Wharton (Conservative MP), Nigel Evans (Conservative MP) and David Amess (Conservative MP).

Along with President Rajapakse, Sri Lanka's Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Higher Education S.B.Dissanayake, Provincial Council member Nauzer Fauzi, and Sri Lankan High Commissioner in UK Justice Nihal Jayasinghe.

President Rajapakse is on a 'private' visit to UK, but his office clearly sees this meeting, like Dr. Fox's, as official, not private.

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