Jeremy Corbyn has urged the world not to “cut Sri Lanka off” in the wake of the Easter Sunday terror attacks that killed more than 300 people.
The Labour leader made the comments after visiting the Sri Lankan High Commission close to Hyde Park on Tuesday afternoon.
He said: “The people who died were tourists, they were Sri Lanka nationals, they were of all different faiths, all different communities – they all lost their lives in this brutal and horrible attack.
“I hope that the Sri Lankan people can come together in obviously mourning and grief but also in opposition to what’s happened because Sri Lanka has been through terrible times – thousands have lost their lives in the civil wars of the past and nobody wants to see a return to those days.”
He said that the UK should offer any assistance Sri Lanka needs from the international community, and voiced his hope that people would continue to visit the country.
Sri Lanka has a thriving tourist industry, which has grown rapidly since the end of its long-running civil war with Tamil separatists 10 years ago.
“The High Commissioner was explaining to me that large numbers of British people go to Sri Lanka every year on holiday and enjoy themselves,” he said.
“It’s a stunning country and she hopes that people will continue to visit and I share that hope, because clearly one doesn’t want to see the country cut off because of this terrible event that’s taken place.”
He continued: “An attack like this on a hotel or a church or any other place is an indiscriminate attack on all of us.
“Over the past few years there’s been attacks on a synagogue in the US, on a mosque in New Zealand and on a Christian church in Sri Lanka – as far as I’m concerned, if you attack anybody’s place of worship you are actually attacking all of us and our belief in the diversity of our communities and our world.”
Although Islamic State has now claimed responsibility for the attack, Mr Corbyn urged people not to jump to conclusions about the perpetrators.
“I think it’s quite dangerous to over speculate at this time. I think the important thing is to make sure that people are safe and secure and there’s a proper period of mourning for all those who have lost their lives,” he said.
“The important thing is to bring people together in the wake of these horrible attacks – the power of people coming together, the power of love for each other is actually far greater than the hate that can be generated by an attack like this.”
Earlier on Tuesday Mr Corbyn met with 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg who is visiting the UK from her native Sweden to express her support for the ongoing Extinction Rebellion Protests.
Mr Corbyn described the meeting as “absolutely fascinating”, saying they had discussed issues around pollution, emissions and agriculture.
“We agreed that we would continue those discussions when we put forward policy so that we are measuring our policy against the environmental impact,” he said.
“We have to have a much more focused and serious approach towards climate change and the damage we are doing to our natural world.”
When asked about his hopes for the latest round of cross-party Brexit talks, he said: “There must be a protection of rights at work, protection of what we consume, as well of course as protection of our natural world.”
He added: “People might have voted Leave or voted Remain in the referendum nearly three years ago – they didn’t vote to lose their jobs, they didn’t vote to have a deregulated society.”