PM to skip CHOGM, Khurshid set to go

New Delhi/Chennai :  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to travel to Colombo next week to attend the Commonwealth summit, bowing to political pressure, especially from the Tamil parties.  External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is set to lead the Indian delegation, said sources on Saturday.

PM to skip CHOGM, Khurshid set to go

In Chennai, DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi was quick to welcome the “decision” of the Prime Minister not to attend, saying it was “somewhat comforting that at least Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has listened to our voice and decided not to participate in CHOGM”.

He said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid decision to participate in the summit was a “debatable” decision.

The decision on level of Indian representation and Singh skipping the meet will be communicated to the Lankan government by tomorrow, sources said. “The Prime Minister is likely to write to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Sunday regarding his decision,” government sources said. However, there was no official announcement over Singh’s decision to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit on

November 15-16. However, Khurshid has been favouring Singh’s presence in the CHOGM scheduled on November 15, maintaining that it was vital as it will reflect India’s interests.

According to MEA, it is also paramount to the nation’s strategic and security interests.

Asked if there was a possibility of vice president Hamid Ansari representing India at the CHOGM if Singh decides not to go, MEA spokesperson did not give a direct reply.

He, however, said in 10 summit level meetings since 1993, the Prime Minister represented India five times while on four occasions, ministers had headed the Indian delegation. There was one instance of the Vice President representing India. “So what you can summarise from this is that what we have followed in terms of participation in the CHOGM is an approach of something akin to horses for courses.           “We focused on what is required for our national interest, our foreign policy priorities and our international obligations. Taking those into account we have our delegations led by different people,” he said.

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