Lanka hopes PM will participate

Sri Lankan foreign minister G.L. Peiris on Sunday asserted that the island nation would want Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Colombo in November.

Interacting with the press at the Sri Lankan High Commission, he said, “I am here basically for the purpose of extending an invitation to the PM.” He added, “We would very much like him to be there. It is very important.” He took pride in the fact that a CHOGM meeting was happening in an Asian country after nearly quarter of a century.
When pointed that main Tamil parties were opposed to India’s participation, he said, “It is up to India to decide but we will like participation of India at the highest level.” Both the AIADMK and the DMK have called on the UPA government to boycott the CHOGM meeting in Colombo to put pressure on Sri Lanka to do more for the neglected Tamil minorities there. In a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa has said, “At the very least, India must stay away from the CHOGM to be held in Colombo and, thereby, exert pressure on Sri Lanka to do justice by its hapless, much exploited Tamil Minorities.” DMK chief Karunanidhi, too, has warned the Cente that if it doesn’t declare categorically that it would not participate in the CHOGM meeting, there would be rail blockades, black flags on houses and commercial establishments across the state of Tamil Nadu.
Talking about the impending provincial polls in the northern province of the Sri Lanka, the minister said that an observer group from the Commonwealth group of Nations would be in his country to oversee the election process. India is also all set to send a delegation to monitor the poll process. He said, “ The CHOGM is deputing a team to observe the poll process in the northern province.”
When asked about the demand of Tamil politicians that the Katchatheevu island be retrieved from Sri Lanka, Mr Peiris said that the matter was settled by the former Prime Ministers of both countries namely Indira Gandhi and Srimavo Bandranaike. On the sensitive issue of Tamil fishermen being detained by Sri Lankan, the minister said a dialogue between the fishermen community of both the countries could resolve the issue. Likewise, even the controversial issue of training Sri Lankan Army personnel getting trained in India, Mr Peiris said, “That was for the Indian government to decide where and how the training should be given. But defence is only a part of the over all co-operation that exists between the two countries.”

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