Published On: Sun, Nov 10th, 2013

CHOGM summit: PM writes to Rajapaksa, expresses regret

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday wrote to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa expressing his regret for not attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit being held in the island nation on November 15-16, reports said.

Singh has written a short letter to Rajapaksa informing him of his decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM), sources said.

The letter will be delivered to the Sri Lankan President by the Indian High Commission in Colombo, the sources said.

However, it is believed that the letter, whose contents were not disclosed, does not talk about the reasons for Singh skipping the meet.

Singh’s decision to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit on November 15-16 was backed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid who said it won’t affect the India-Sri Lanka relations.

Political parties in Tamil Nadu and several other outfits have opposed India’s participation at any level in the CHOGM meet alleging that the Sri Lankan government had committed gross violation of human rights and had no plans to devolve powers to the ethnic Tamils.

However, Khurshid has been favouring Singh’s presence in the CHOGM scheduled on November 15, maintaining that it was vital as it will reflect India’s interests. According to MEA, it is also paramount to the nation’s strategic and security interests.

Asked if there was a possibility of Vice President Hamid Ansari representing India at the CHOGM if Singh decides not to go, MEA spokesperson did not give a direct reply.

He, however, said in 10 summit level meetings since 1993, the Prime Minister represented India five times while on four occasions, ministers had headed the Indian delegation. There was one instance of the Vice President representing India.

“So what you can summarise from this is that what we have followed in terms of participation in the CHOGM is an approach of something akin to horses for courses.

“We focused on what is required for our national interest, our foreign policy priorities and our international obligations. Taking those into account we have our delegations led by different people,” he said.

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