Sri Lanka seek ICC security clearance for Pakistan tour (Lead)

December 26th, 2008 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 26 (IANS) Sri Lanka Friday said the proposed tour of Pakistan, as a replacement for India, will be on schedule from Jan 20 but only after security clearance by the International Cricket Council (ICC).The foreign ministry said the decision was taken after President Mahinda Rajapaksa discussed the proposed tour with foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama and sports minister Gamini Lokuge here Friday.

But Lokuge, expressing his views on the Pakistan tour, said that since the proposed tour “would be taking place under the aegis of the International Cricket Council (ICC), it should be subject to security clearance of the ICC.”

“Pursuant to this discussion, the foreign minister has recommended that the tour to Pakistan should proceed as scheduled from Jan 20 to Feb 25,” the ministry said in a statement.

India were to tour Pakistan in January-February to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match. However, the Indian government did not clear the tour in the wake of last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai, which it has blamed on Pakistan-based terrorists.

This resulted in the desperate Pakistan Cricket Board sending an invitation to Sri Lanka instead.

The reviewed decision to go ahead with the tour came a week after the then Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) led by Arjuna Ranatunga, who was sacked by Lokuge, said that it had formally accepted Pakistan’s invitation to undertake a full tour in January.

Meanwhile, the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan in Colombo, Fazal-Ur-Rahman Kazi had also spoken to foreign minister Bogollagama Wednesday and pushed the matter.

“Bogollagama is of the view that sport is an effective means of promoting connectivity between nations and thereby enhancing friendship and mutual goodwill between countries,” the foreign ministry statement said.

Bogollagama has already directed Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, D.D. Ranasinghe to represent Sri Lanka at the Asian Cricket Council Development Committee meeting to be held in Kuala Lumpur.

Sri Lanka are currently touring in Bangladesh and are scheduled to return home early next month.

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