'Give us time' Sri Lankan leader tells Cameron

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse told Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday his country needed more time to address concerns about the plight of minority Tamils after the end of its ethnic conflict.

"As it is now only four years since the end of the conflict, the country needs some more time to overcome all major challenges", Rajapakse said, according to a statement from his office, after talks with Cameron in Colombo.

Cameron had earlier become the first foreign leader to visit the war-torn northern Jaffna region, meeting locals who have lost loved ones and their livelihoods during the 37-year war which ended in 2009.

More than 100,000 people died in the conflict and the UN says as many as 40,000 may have died in its final months.

The British leader travelled to Jaffna shortly after the start of a three-day Commonwealth summit being hosted by Rajapakse in Colombo.

The statement from Rajapakse's office made no mention of the tone of their conversation which had been expected to be tense.

But it did acknowledge that Cameron had pushed for action from Colombo on issues such as helping the resettlement of people who have lost their homes, a lessening of the heavy military presence and more devolution of powers to a newly-elected provincial council.

Rajapakse in response "explained that an enormous amount of work has been done in terms of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed during the conflict," said the statement.

Cameron is due to give a press conference on Saturday morning to report back on his impressions of his visit.