Wigneswaran’s letter to PM is also an input, says MEA

A process has been set in motion to arrive at a decision on the level of Indian participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting in Colombo from November 15, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

“We are taking into consideration all aspects of our national interest, our foreign policy priorities and our international obligations. The process has not reached its culmination. There is still some way down the track on this,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told newspersons here.

The spokesperson confirmed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had received a letter from Sri Lanka’s Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, appreciating Indian assistance in ensuring that elections to the provincial council were held. He extended an invitation to Dr. Singh to visit Jaffna, which was an “an input in the decision-making process and will be considered with a variety of other factors.”

Asked if it was usual for Chief Ministers of individual provinces in foreign countries to approach the Prime Minister directly and vice-versa, Mr. Akbaruddin said the relationship between India and Sri Lanka should not be characterised as “usual.”

“It is a very strong and close relationship, where India has worked with Sri Lanka on a variety of issues including welfare of the people in the northern areas who have been adversely impacted. So, let us not judge these things by the usual parameters of what you think are usual,” he replied.

“Our relationship with Sri Lanka is certainly unique and, therefore, our interaction is also in a way is distinct. And I think we should respect that distinctiveness and that is a distinctiveness that is reflected in our foreign policy and our approach towards Sri Lanka.”

J. Balaji reports

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told Shipping Minister and Tamil Nadu Congress leader G.K. Vasan that a decision on his attending CHOGM would be taken at the appropriate time, keeping in mind the sentiments of Tamils and the resolution passed by the State Assembly.

Mr. Vasan got this message when he met the Prime Minister here on Thursday to highlight Tamils’ expectations of India boycotting CHOGM.

Mr. Vasan told The Hindu that Dr. Singh had assured him he would soon convene a meeting withofficials concerned and take a decision on the stand to be taken by the government of India on the CHOGM issue.

He also referred to the continuing attacks on and detention of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan security personnel on the high seas, and asked the Prime Minister to put a stop to such happenings.

Dr. Singh, in a recent communication to DMK president M. Karunanidhi, assured him that a decision on his participation in CHOGM would be taken only after considering all relevant factors, including the sentiments of Tamil Nadu people.

The AIADMK government, led by Jayalalithaa, on October 24 passed a unanimous resolution in the Assembly, which said: “India should totally boycott the meeting in deference to the overwhelming feeling and sentiments of Tamils and should immediately convey its decision to Sri Lanka.”

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