Manmohan Singh presence at CHOGM: MEA hints at possible presence

CHOGM Commonwealth Flag    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may visit Colombo for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting ( CHOGM) on November 15-17, the Official Spokesperson  at the Indian ministry of external affairs  Syed Akbaruddin indicated at its Media Briefing on October 31.

The chief minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council CV Vigneswaran wrote to Mr  Singh this week  inviting him to visit Jaffna. There are expectations that the Prime Minister could visit the island in a show of support for the Tamil  community.

Replying to reports in the papers about the possibility of the Prime Minister going for the CHOGM conference in Colombo. on whether a final decision been taken, and what is the procedure? he replied

Official Spokesperson: This is a question which is a rather high priority and perhaps what you are trying to find out right now is the level of Indian participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting which will be held in Colombo from the 15th of next month.

Question:It has also been reported that Chief Minister Vigneshwaran has written to the Prime Minister requesting him to visit Jaffna.  ?

Official Spokesperson:Without of course divulging what is a privileged communication between the Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council of Sri Lanka and our Prime Minister, I can confirm to you that he did receive a letter on the 28thof this month late in the evening. I will not get into the exact details of the letter, but again I can inform you that the letter basically indicates that he is grateful for Indian assistance in terms of ensuring that the elections were held and an elected body has taken its place. He does inform that he has now assumed charge and he is grateful to India for that. Also, in the context that letter he has invited the Prime Minister to visit Jaffna. This of course is an input into the decision-making process and will be considered with a variety of other factors. Right now, as I said, the process is underway. So I cannot let you on to anything further apart from the details that I have shared with you

Question:Is it routine and usual for Chief Ministers of individual Provinces in foreign countries to approach our Prime Minister directly and vice-versa? Is it usual or is it accepted for Ministers of individual States in India to approach Presidents or Prime Ministers or Heads of State of other countries?

Official Spokesperson:The relationship between India and Sri Lanka should not be characterised as usual. It is a very strong relationship, it is a very close relationship, and it is a relationship where India has worked with Sri Lanka for a variety of issues including the welfare of the people in the northern areas who have been adversely impacted. So, let us not judge these things by the usual parameters of what you think is usual.

As for other relationships, each relationship each unique and our relationship with Sri Lanka is certainly unique and, therefore, our interaction is also in a way is distinct. And I think we should respect that distinctiveness and that is a distinctiveness that is reflected in our foreign policy and our approach towards Sri Lanka.

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