The Foreign Office summoned the British High Commissioner here on Monday, taking exception to his comments on the “disproportionately high military presence in north Sri Lanka”.

“Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris made it clear that the British envoy John Rankin's comments were unacceptable and constituted interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka,” said a senior official.

Mr. Rankin said: “We hope the military presence in the North and East can resemble the level of the military presence in other parts of the country, rather than the very large military presence we continue to have at the moment.” While comments by Western missions had been overlooked during the war years, Colombo is making a statement with the summoning of the British envoy.

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