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Key defends stance on Sri Lanka

Sunday 17 Nov 2013 11:19a.m.

Key defends stance on Sri Lanka

New Zealand has gained an elephant and Prime Minister John Key has fired off a tweet to someone who isn't British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Sri Lanka.

Mr Key is attending CHOGM despite calls at home for him to boycott the summit, while the leaders of Canada, India and Mauritius are boycotting it over concerns about Sri Lanka's human rights record towards the end of decades of civil war.

Mr Key says it is better to be talking to Sri Lanka than not, and he also defended his refusal to back calls for an independent inquiry into the reports of 40,000 civilian deaths.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has visited the Tamil-led north of the country, saying he conveyed "New Zealand's strong interest in the human rights issues and in reconciliation and devolution".

Mr Cameron also visited the northern province and backed the call for an independent investigation.

However, Mr Key fudged his response to why New Zealand wasn't doing the same in an interview with TVNZ's Q+A.

"The question is whether that would actually achieve a lot or whether the focus would be better saying 'we have had this national inquiry' ... so the real question for Sri Lanka, as the military tend to withdraw from the north, can you end up with a ... peaceful long term position?"

While Mr Key defended his dovish stance on Sri Lanka, New Zealand has gained an elephant.

Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa told Q+A his country wanted to send New Zealand an elephant as a symbol of the two countries' friendship.

Meanwhile, Mr Key has won a bet with Mr Cameron over the result of the rugby Test between their two countries, won by the All Blacks 30-22.

Mr Cameron says he would make a $100 donation to the Christchurch earthquake appeal and wear New Zealand cufflinks.

However, in an attempt to converse with Mr Cameron on Twitter, Mr Key, or whoever runs his account, sent a message to US man David Cameron asking him to send photos of the cufflinks.

NZN

 
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