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India's highest-level participation at CHOGM sought

Melbourne, Nov 1, 2013 (PTI)
Ministers of some Commonwealth countries have stressed upon External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid the need for India's active participation at the highest level in the CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka. DH File Photo.
Ministers of some Commonwealth countries have stressed upon External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid the need for India's active participation at the highest level in the CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka.
This comes in the backdrop of debates in India over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's participation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo from November 15 to 17 with political parties in South India strongly opposed to his attending the summit in Colombo.

The parties allege that Sri Lanka has indulged in atrocities against ethnic Tamils.

"Need was stressed by the ministers from other Commonwealth countries, present at the IOR-ARC meet, that India should have active participation at the highest level in the summit," official sources said.

Khurshid after holding talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, at a joint press conference, said he will attend the CHOGM meeting.

He, however, did not confirm Singh's participation at the CHOGM summit.

Khurshid and Bishop announced their willingness to participate in the CHOGM meet and said that they will not follow Canada in boycotting it due to concerns over the country's human rights issues, the AAP news agency reported.

Khurshid said it was important that the Commonwealth was strengthened.

"People have very strong deep-rooted views about what should be done," he said, adding that "There are obviously very, very serious concerns that may have been felt in domestic terms by the Canadian government."

"But I think it is important for leaders to take some things in their stride and look at the larger picture and the commitment that we all have to the Commonwealth," Khurshid said.

Bishop said it was important to engage with Sri Lanka as it rebuilt itself in the aftermath of a nearly 30-year civil conflict.

The ministers of Commonwealth countries pressed for India's participation at the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC), initially known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative, which is an international organisation with 20 member states.

It also has a number of Commonwealth countries as its members including, Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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