Only time will tell how diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka would shape up as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo held earlier this month.
But the prospects of both countries tiding over this hiccup in ties were positive. There is a commonality of interest on many issues and both countries would continue to engage closely with each other, well placed sources said here on Thursday.
Maintaining that Dr. Singh’s decision not to visit Sri Lanka for CHOGM was no “reflection” of the strength of bilateral ties, they drew attention to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s presence at the summit. “That was widely appreciated and we have to continue to work with each other as we can’t wish each other away,” they added.
Asked if Dr. Singh’s decision not to attend CHOGM meant less leverage with Sri Lanka, without elaborating the sources said India was working on other leverages to improve bilateral ties.
They did not appreciate British Prime Minister David Cameron trying to pin Sri Lanka to a deadline for addressing issues relating to alleged human rights abuses. “This is not our style,” they said and feared that such kind of diplomacy could become counterproductive. “We make our point but not in a manner that is quite so apparent. Our interlocutors know what we are talking about... but we don’t do this through the media,” they added.
Mr. Cameron had called on Sri Lanka to address by March next year, charges of mass killing of civilians in the final months of the war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. The sources said India would definitely take a stand at the next UN Human Rights Council meeting in March — the deadline Mr. Cameron was referring to — but its attitude would be firmed up on the basis of steps taken by Sri Lanka by then.