Cameron defends Sri Lanka trip

The mass murder of civilians at the end of a bloody civil war. Rape, torture and the suppression of the press continuing until today.

Those are the allegations facing Sri Lanka's PM Rajapaxa - the man who is hosting not just Prince Charles but the leaders of countries from around the globe including our own prime minister.

David Cameron watched the powerful Channel 4 documentary No Fire Zone before setting off on this trip and told me that he found the images "chilling" and regarded allegations of war crimes as serious and needing urgent investigation.

Despite that charge sheet, the prime minister has rejected those calling on him to boycott the Commonwealth leaders summit - a decision already taken by India's PM Singh, who he met in Delhi today, as well as the leaders of Canada and Mauritius.

When I interviewed Mr Cameron on a trip to Calcutta, he attempted to draw a distinction between choosing not to leave an empty chair at the Commonwealth summit and making a bilateral visit to Sri Lanka.

He claims his visit will shine a spotlight on Sri Lanka and asked me "would you, Nick Robinson, be talking about Sri Lanka, would I, David Cameron - the PM - be talking about it?" if he hadn't gone.

Tomorrow the prime minister will visit Jaffna - one of the cities still scarred by the civil war - to highlight the horrors of the past. He will also visit the newspaper featured in a recent BBC News report. The editor whose printing presses were still charred and unusable didn't dare to say who had done the damage.

Later, he is due to meet the Sri Lankan leader who has already declared that he is not waiting to be asked questions by Mr Cameron since he has some of his own to ask. Like, no doubt, why is he being condemned for ending the war with the Tamil tigers when their atrocities are not being highlighted.

Mr Cameron will then take his chair at the Commonwealth leaders summit when, you might be interested to know, Sri Lanka's past atrocities and present abuse of human rights are not even on the agenda.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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