Kerala minister's China visit was not in national interest: MEA

Kerala minister's China visit was not in national interest: MEA
Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran was denied permission to attend a UN meeting in China last month because his participation was not in “national interest”, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said.

The MEA statement came as part of a response to an RTI query by Kochi-based lawyer and RTI activist D B Binu.

The denial of permission for Surendran to attend the 22nd session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly at Chengdu between September 11 and 16 had triggered a row over its alleged political motives.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed the MEA move “unfortunate” and wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to reconsider the decision.

“Ministerial level participation at the aforementioned event was not deemed appropriate in the national interest,” the response by Prasanna Srivastava, Deputy Secretary (China and Korea) stated.

The MEA received the minister’s request for political clearance on August 23. Srivastava said in his response that requests for such clearances were examined as per guidelines issued by the Cabinet Secretariat and other relevant entities.

On September 13, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh had said protocol issues led the ministry to deny permission for the visit.

Singh said political clearance for such visits was typically issued after seeking views of the Indian mission in the respective countries, ensuring that protocol stipulations are met and meetings are arranged only with “relevant” people.

“We don’t want our people to be downgraded in the countries they are visiting,” he said.
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