Khurshid arrives in Colombo for CHOGM
Colombo – External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid arrived in Colombo a short while ago to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Khurshid will attend the first session of the Pre-CHOGM Ministers’ meeting later today, which finalises the agenda for the main summit that will start on Friday.
Wednesday’s meeting will focus on the special CHOGM theme ‘Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development’.
Khurshid on Tuesday asserted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s absence from the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo does not foreclose India’s legitimate position in multi-lateral fora.
He also said that there is a two-way investment between Sri Lanka and India.
“The Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh will accompany me. The fact that the Prime Minister is not going does not foreclose any legitimate position that we would take in the multi lateral fora,” Khurshid told media at the end of the two-day ASEM meet in Gurgaon, Haryana.
“There is a two-way investment between Sri Lanka and India, and tourists between the two countries. It cannot be held hostage to something in which we believe we have a lot more work to do in terms of the expectations of the Indo-Sri Lanka code,” he added.
Khurshid also said that the Prime Minister’s decision to skip CHOGM had been taken after factoring a lot of issues.
‘The Prime Minister has taken a considerate call; he factored in a lot of issues, including the importance of his presence in the country at this time. We are after all facing five elections,” he said.
“There was also a very strong sentiment expressed by our colleagues in parliament from Tamil Nadu. Everything must have been factored in, and after that a decision was taken,” he added.
Meanwhile,the Tamil Nadu Assembly in its special meeting, adopted a resolution to stop India’s participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Colombo.
The resolution reiterated that India should totally boycott the Commonwealth Heads Summit which is to be held from November 13 to 17 and also the External Affairs Ministers’ meeting.
The resolution also emphasised that indirectly it meant that Sri Lanka had the support for indulging in acts of violence against the Tamils.
It also said the assembly had urged the Centre to take steps to get Sri Lanka suspended from Commonwealth till it took action to ensure that Sri Lankan Tamils were given equal rights on par with Sinhalese and were able to live independently.
“But in total contradiction to these demands, the Centre has announced that an Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister would attend the CHOGM. The assembly expresses its deep regret to this,” the resolution read. Earlier, demonstrators blocked trains in Tamil Nadu, and particularly in state capital Chennai, in protest against the CHOGM Summit, even after it was announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would skip the meet to be held in Colombo.
Many political parties and some ministers within the ruling Congress party were advocating a total boycott of the event over alleged war atrocities of the Sri Lankan Army in its war against the Tamil Tigers.