Riyadh clarifies envoy was not recalled

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said yesterday the “recall” of Saudi Ambassador to Sri Lanka Abdulaziz Bin Abdurrahman Al-Jammaz was a summons for consultation.

“The Saudi ambassador has not been recalled permanently, but asked to come to Riyadh for consultations,” said Alauddin A. Alaskary, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs, here yesterday.

“There is a difference between an invitation for consultations and a recall … Al-Jammaz has not been recalled, he is still the ambassador to Sri Lanka,” he added.

He was commenting on several reports published in Sri Lankan media recently that said that Riyadh has recalled its ambassador from Colombo amid tensions after a Sri Lankan nanny convicted of murder was beheaded in the Kingdom early this year.

Asked about the return date of the Saudi envoy to Colombo, Alaskary said that, “it is yet to be decided by the foreign ministry.” But, Al-Jammaz, who is Saudi ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, will be going back soon, he added.

D. S. Gammanpila, charge d’affaires at Sri Lankan Embassy, said that the relations between Riyadh and Colombo are normal.

“Even the Sri Lankan workers are being recruited for the Kingdom,’ said the Sri Lankan diplomat. The bilateral relations, which were strained after the execution of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek, who was charged with smothering a four-month-old baby in 2005; are normal now.

Gammanpila said that Sri Lankan workers are being recruited and deployed in the Kingdom regularly.

“There are no problems,” said the diplomat, when asked to clarify a report about Colombo suspending the recruitment of Sri Lankan workers including maids. The report was based on the a statement released by an association of foreign employment agents in Sri Lanka, which said that the Sri Lankan government has suspended sending housemaids to Saudi Arabia.

The report released by the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) said that the Sri Lankan government has suspended sending workers and maids to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi authorities provide a proper insurance scheme to the Sri Lankan employees. Saudi Arabia currently is home for about 500,000 Sri Lankan workers. Most workers are maids employed by Saudi families, schools and a few of them in expatriates’ houses.

Asked about the arrival of the new Sri Lankan ambassador to Saudi Arabia, whose name was announced by the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry last week; Gammanpila said that “the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh has not been informed about the date of the arrival of ambassador-designate Vadivel Krishnamoorthy. Sri Lankan government nominated senior diplomat Vadivel just two weeks after his predecessor Ambassador Ahmed A. Jawad returned to Colombo, Arab News reports.