Defence Secretary Liam Fox has cancelled a controversial visit to Sri Lanka he had been planning to make this weekend.
There have been claims that Foreign Secretary William Hague had been angry at the idea of Dr Fox visiting a country facing war crimes allegations.
But a spokesman for the Defence Secretary said the trip had only been postponed because he is staying longer than expected on another visit to the Gulf.
Instead of what would have been a private visit, he will now be conducting an official visit next year.
“Dr Fox has postponed his private visit to Sri Lanka due to an extension to his scheduled official visit to the Gulf,” the spokesman said.
“He intends to carry out an official visit to Sri Lanka next year during which he proposes to fulfil the speaking engagement that he had planned.”
The Defence Secretary was meant to be making a speech in honour of a former foreign minister on Saturday.
He has a close interest in Sri Lankan affairs going back to his time as a Foreign Office minister in John Major’s government and has made several visits there in the past.
However, the country has a highly questionable human rights record and its government is accused of committing war crimes against Tamil Tiger rebels.
Downing Street insisted earlier that Prime Minister David Cameron had not discouraged Dr Fox from making the visit.