Saturday, 16 November 2013 - 9:32
I am disappointed, wanted our PM to visit Jaffna - Salman Khurshid
Indian External affairs minister Salman Khurshid expressed regret that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not visit Jaffna, a feat undertaken by his British counterpart David Cameron, who became the first head of government to visit the war-torn northern province in Sri Lanka since its independence in 1948.
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He stated that he was disappointed that he could not take the prime minister to an area where India was building 50,000 houses.
Khurshid was answering questions on the historic visit Cameron made to Jaffna after the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth summit.
There were plans for Prime Minister Singh to visit Jaffna before going to Colombo for the summit but it was axed by the strong opposition from Tamil Nadu.
Khurshid said he did not want to blame anyone.
While the Prime Minister did not visit Sri Lanka, it was decided that there will be no boycott because India has to remain engaged with Sri Lanka.
PM not at CHOGM due to domestic compulsions says Khurshid
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided against attending the CHOGM summit as he was pressed by "competing sentiments" in India about outstanding issues with Sri Lanka and domestic compulsions like polls in five states, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said.
"I imagine a lot of things were factored in," Khurshid told CNN in an interview when asked why the Prime Minister did not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo.
"We are now into five elections and important elections, the last round of elections before the general elections some time in the middle of next year. We are also handling some very, very critical economic issues including issues which are far-reaching reform issues, some of which will come before the next session of Parliament that's now a few weeks away," Khurshid said, explaining the reasons for Singh's absence at the summit.
"And of course, there were competing sentiments in the country about some outstanding issues with Sri Lanka, particularly on the rehabilitation and reconstruction that's imperative after the end of the war," Khurshid said in an apparent reference to the opposition to Singh's presence at CHOGM by political parties in Tamil Nadu.
"I think the totality of things that he took into account persuaded him not to come and that he would send a team instead, headed by the foreign minister of the country. So here I am," Khurshid, who is leading the Indian delegation at the Colombo summit, said.
Apart from Singh, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Mauritian counterpart Navin Chandra Ramgoolam have also chosen to keep away from the summit citing the "poor" human rights record of Sri Lanka.
Khurshid, talking about Sri Lanka and the phase it is going through, said "I think what happened in this country (Sri Lanka) for 27 years is something that nobody can discount....We have suffered as far as that tragedy.