COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Britain's Prince Charles arrived in eastern Sri Lanka Monday to meet tsunami survivors, but will avoid nearby areas held by Tamil rebels, the BBC reported.
Arriving at Colombo airport, the prince was welcomed by Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. Shortly thereafter, he boarded a military helicopter to the eastern city of Batticaloa, which has been scarred by the nation's long-running civil war.
There, he is scheduled to visit a renovated temple and talk to fishermen affected by the tsunami, a government official said. However, he has no plans to visit areas nearby held by the Tamil Tigers, despite an invitation to do so.
Prince Charles is not making "a political visit," said Rebecca Packham, a royal aide. "It's about meeting local people and relief workers," she said.
This is the prince's first visit to Sri Lanka, a member of the Commonwealth, since 1998, when he was a guest at celebrations marking 50 years of independence from British rule.
Later Monday the prince was expected to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga before flying on to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, also Commonwealth members.