Govt shies away from confirming PM's visit

Govt shies away from confirming PM's visit

An invitation from Tamil-inhabited Northern Province of Sri Lanka may finally help Prime Minister Manmohan Singh get out of his dilemma over participation in the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM) in Colombo.

New Delhi on Thursday shied away from confirming Prime Minister’s tour to Colombo for the CHOGM. Sources in the government, however, dropped hints that the invitation from C V Wigneswaran, chief minister of the newly-elected government of Northern Province, for a visit to Jaffna could be used to build up a case for the prime minister’s visit.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akbaruddin said: “A process has been set in motion to arrive at a decision on this matter. We are taking into consideration all aspects, our national interest, our foreign policy priorities and our international obligations. That process has not reached its culmination.”

Not only the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam, but also a section of the Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu urged the prime minister not to attend the CHOGM in Colombo as a mark of protest against human rights violations by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the final crackdown on the LTTE in 2009.

A resolution moved by AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalitha was unanimously passed by the state Assembly on October 24, calling upon the Union government to totally boycott the biennial summit.Congress leader and Shipping Minister G K Vasan, too, on Thursday met the prime minister and urged him not to attend the CHOGM. The government, however, seems to be preparing to cite the invitation from the newly-appointed Chief Minister of the Northern Province.

“I will not get into the exact details of the letter, but again I can inform you that the letter basically indicates that he (Wigneswaran) 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 of that letter he has invited the prime minister to visit Jaffna (the capital of Northern Province),” said Akbaruddin.

“This of course is an input into the decision-making process and will be considered with a variety of other factors,” the MEA spokesperson added.

Wigneswaran, a former judge of the Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court, took over as the chief minister of Northern Province earlier this month after the Tamil National Alliance swept the historic elections to the Northern Provincial
Council. 

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