PM Manmohan Singh’s absence not a setback for Colombo summit

chogm    Sri Lanka today said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) summit in Colombo was not a setback and it understood the domestic political compulsions behind the move.

“It will not affect the success of CHOGM,” Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister GL Peiris said after Singh wrote a letter to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa saying he will be unable to personally attend the summit from November 15.

“The Indian Prime Minister was invited. Sri Lankans would have been happier if he came,” said Peiris.

Peiris said Sri Lanka understands the domestic political compulsions which had forced the Indian PM to take such a decision.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission confirmed that Dr Singh’s letter addressed to Rajapakse has been delivered to the President’s office.

The Prime Minister has decided against undertaking the visit in view of the stiff opposition by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will now head the Indian delegation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on November 15-16.

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.

Dr Singh became the second head of state after the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stay away from the meeting.

Harper said he was skipping the summit as Sri Lanka had failed to show progress in addressing alleged human rights violations in the country.     (NDTV)

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