Sri Lanka 'has nothing to hide'

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka had nothing to hide and "will take our time and we will investigate into nearly 30 years of war." Meanwhile, David Cameron said he was "committed" to keeping up pressure on Sri Lanka.

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PM claims Miliband 'barely gets out of Islington'

David Cameron has defended his trip to Sri Lanka and accused Ed Miliband of lacking foreign affairs knowledge by saying the Labour leader "barely gets out of Islington."

David Cameron delivers a statement to the House of Commons.

Read: UK reporters blocked from Sri Lanka president presser

The Prime Minister was delivering a statement to the House of Commons when he said: "In 2009, sometime after the war [in Sri Lanka] had happened, the last government agreed the conference should take place in 2013 in Sri Lanka.

"If he [Miliband] knows anything about foreign affairs, and I doubt it because he barely gets out of Islington, he'd know this is a consensus organisation - once something has been agreed it is very difficult to unblock it."

Read: Protest overshadows Sri Lanka Commonwealth summit

David Cameron delivers Sri Lankan president ultimatum

David Cameron gave the Sri Lankan President an ultimatum today - launch an independent inquiry into the country's alleged human rights abuses or he would take it to the United Nations.

However, the Prime Minister's comments were dismissed by Mahinda Rajapaksa who said Sri Lanka had "nothing to hide".

This week ITV News has been in Sri Lanka for the Summit of Commonwealth nations but today our team were denied direct access to question the president of the country.

From Colombo, ITV News International Editor Bill Neely reports:

Read: UK reporters blocked from Sri Lanka president presser

Read: Protests overshadows Sri Lanka's Commonwealth summit

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PM 'committed' to keeping up pressure on Sri Lanka

David Cameron said he was "committed" to keeping up the pressure on Sri Lanka over his calls for a new "credible, transparent and independent" war crimes investigation by March.

Speaking in Dubai after meeting the Red Arrows at an airshow, the Prime Minister said: "These issues are not solved by one visit, this is not a flash in the pan, it's a dialogue, a conversation, pressure that we need to keep-up over the longer term and I'm committed to doing that."

Read: Protests overshadows Sri Lanka's Commonwealth summit

President: Sri Lanka has nothing to hide

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a news conference that Sri Lanka had nothing to hide and "will take our time and we will investigate into nearly 30 years of war."

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a press conference that Sri Lanka has 'nothing to hide'
President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a press conference that Sri Lanka has 'nothing to hide' Credit: RTV

He added: "If there are any allegations we are ready to inquire into it. We have nothing to hide. It's a free country. We need time to settle things."

Some accredited journalists - including ITV's Bill Neely - were denied entry to the press conference, despite requests to the president's aides by the Commonwealth Secretariat and Media Spokesman.

Read: UK reporters blocked from Sri Lanka president press conference

Commonwealth Secretariat: Why not let them in?

Richard Uku, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Media Spokesman was filmed apparently pleading with the Sri Lankan's president's aides to allow journalists access to today's press conference.

Media Spokesman Richard Uku pleading with aides to allow journalists press conference access.
Media Spokesman Richard Uku pleading with aides to allow journalists press conference access. Credit: ITV News

Mr Uku could be heard saying: "You've accredited them, so why not let them talk to the the the president? The president can handle this, it's worse to not let them in having come all the way here."

ITV correspondent Bill Neely was among the accredited journalists barred from entering today's conference with the Sri Lankan president.
ITV correspondent Bill Neely was among the accredited journalists barred from entering today's conference with the Sri Lankan president. Credit: ITV News

Read: Journalists blocked from Sri Lanka president presser

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Journalists blocked from Sri Lanka president presser

ITV's Bill Neely is among the journalists who have been denied access to a press conference with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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So #SriLanka guaranteed free access for press to #CHOGM yet physically blocks journalists from doing our jobs We had 12+ police stopping us

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It's the second time we have submitted names for a @presrajapaksa news conference & been rejected. No co-incidence.No free press,as promised

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I've covered dozens of summits.Never been denied entry 2 final Conf of summit open to all International journos. A first for me & SriLanka

Read: Sri Lanka minister rejects UK's call for war crimes probe

Sri Lanka minister rejects UK's call for war crimes probe

Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Development and President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother, Basil Rajapaksa, has rejected David Cameron's calls for an international inquiry into war crimes.

Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, has rejected David Cameron's calls for an international war crimes probe.
Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, has rejected David Cameron's calls for an international war crimes probe. Credit: PA

"We are not going to allow, definitely we will object it," Basil Rajapaksa said.

The Sri Lankan government disputes the number given for civilian deaths and says that criticism of its record on human rights amounts to foreign interference in its affairs.

Read: UK sets March deadline for Sri Lanka war crimes probe

David Cameron admits 'Murali went easy on me'

The Prime Minister tweeted a picture of himself batting against Sri Lankan bowling great Muttiah Muralitharan and admitted the cricketer 'went easy' on him during a visit to Colombo's National Cricket Academy this morning.

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He went easy on me - but at least I can say Murali didn't get me out... http://t.co/L0nA8cwREV

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Read: Cameron tests batting skills against Sri Lankan legend

Cameron tests batting skills against Sri Lankan legend

David Cameron faced spin bowling great Muttiah Muralitharan on a visit to Colombo's National Cricket Academy.

David Cameron faces the bowling of Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan
David Cameron faces the bowling of Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan Credit: PA

The British Prime Minister discussed the former Sri Lanka cricketer's work bringing together youngsters from Tamil and other communities through the sport, as part of post-war reconciliation efforts.

While Muralitharan welcomed Cameron's visit, he later told reporters that the UK leader had been "misled" about the latest situation in the war-scarred north of the island.

David Cameron chats to the former Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan at Colombo's National Cricket Academy
David Cameron chats to the former Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan at Colombo's National Cricket Academy Credit: PA

"I see from my eyes there is improvement," the cricketer told reporters. "I can't say the Prime Minister is wrong or not. He's from England, he hasn't seen the site, he hasn't gone and visited these places - yesterday only."

Cameron said it was an "enormous pleasure" to meet the bowler - who took a record 800 Test wickets - and responded to Muralitharan's comments by saying his own stance on Sri Lanka was given a "fair reflection" of the need for improved human rights.

David Cameron chats to youngsters at the charity run by Muttiah Muralitharan
David Cameron chats to youngsters at the charity run by Muttiah Muralitharan Credit: PA

"I think he acknowledged that I was right to come and right to visit," Cameron said.

"Of course I was told all sorts of things yesterday in the north and there are very strong views in this country, strong differing views on some of the issues...in terms of progress, in terms of human rights, free speech, and I think it's important to raise these issues."

Read: David Cameron admits 'Murali went easy on me'

Read: UK sets March deadline for Sri Lanka war crimes probe

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