‘PM yet to decide about Sri Lanka visit’
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter to DMK chief M. Karunanidhi may have set off speculation about his participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM) in Colombo next month but there has been no official word from his office cancelling his attendance, officials said Thursday. The prime minister’s letter to Karunanidhi ,saying he would take the concerns of the party and the Tamils into consideration while deciding about his participation in the Nov 15-17 54-nation event, has created a flutter among Tamil parties which have been demanding that he should not go to Colombo over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
But there has been no change announced in plans so far, or arrangements made for some other person to represent the prime minister, knowledgeable sources told IANS. One authoritative source brushed aside reports of the prime minister cancelling the visit as “speculation”. Sri Lanka, an important neighbor, is very keen that Manmohan Singh attend the Colombo CHOGM summit that the country is hosting. Its Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris was in New Delhi in August to personally deliver the invite to the prime minister. “We would very much like him to be there. It is very important," Peiris had said.
During his visit to Sri Lanka earlier this month, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had dodged a question on the prime minister’s participation. Asked pointedly during a press conference in Colombo if Manmohan Singh would be attending, Khurshid had said that an “announcement would be made at an appropriate time” and it would come from “the Prime Minister's Office”. The DMK had quit the United Progressive Alliance government in March this year expressing its unhappiness over the Indian government’s policy on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.