PM not to attend CHOGM; Salman Khurshid to represent India
New Delhi – Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will not visit Colombo for the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) next week. Instead, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will head the Indian delegation to the summit.
“Earlier also there have been instances when our Prime Minister has not been able to attend the Commonwealth meet in the past. Often there are times when we need the Prime Minister to discuss the political situation of the country and other matters of importance due to which he has to change his plans,” Khurshid said.
“Last year also it was the Vice President of the country who went for the meeting and earlier, many a times it was the Foreign Minister who represented the country at the meet,” he added.
Khurshid further said that the decision should not be viewed as the one that would strain the relationship between India and Sri Lanka in future.
“Our relation with Sri Lanka isn’t limited to one issue and that we have relations with them at several levels,” he added.
Joint Secretary for United Nations Political Affairs Pavan Kapoor on Saturday outlined the various meetings of Foreign Ministers and senior officials preceding CHOGM.
“CHOGM, which is scheduled to take place in Colombo, will happen from November 15 to November 17. CHOGM would be preceded by the Foreign Ministers meeting, what is called formally the ‘Pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers meeting of the Commonwealth’, which is on November 13 and 14, and that is preceded by meeting of senior officials, what is formally known as the ‘Committee of the Whole’ on November 11 and 12,” he told media here.
“The theme for CHOGM is ‘Growth with equity or inclusive development’. The agenda this time would be a very development oriented agenda,” he added.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Salman Khurshid would also represent India at ‘Pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers meeting.
He further said that Additional Secretary International Organizations Navtej Sarna and Joint Secretary for United Nations Political Affairs Pavan Kapoor would be primary delegates for the ‘Committee of the Whole’, which would be held on November 11 and 12.
“Khurshid will also be assisted by the two officials Navtej Sarna and Pavan Kapoor, as well as the Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh,” he said.
There has been stiff opposition from the political outfits in Tamil Nadu, including DMK and the AIADMK, over the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Nadu assembly unanimously adopted a resolution last month that said India must boycott the session to register its protest against the Sri Lanka n government’s failure to investigate and punish those who allegedly persecuted the island’s ethnic Tamils in the final phase of the civil war that ended in 2009 when the military feared the rebel Tamil Tigers.