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`India`s presence in CHOGM not dilution of stand on Tamils`

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 17:46

Colombo: Ignoring demands from political parties in Tamil Nadu for a total boycott, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid arrived here on Wednesday for the CHOGM summit, making it clear that India`s participation is not in any way dilution of its stand on Tamils in Sri Lanka.

India remains committed to the welfare of Sri Lanka`s ethnic Tamils and would have to remain engaged with Sri Lanka in the "enlightened national interest", Khurshid told reporters accompanying him on a special IAF aircraft.

Putting conditions like India must not have anything to do with Sri Lanka would make things untenable, he added.

Khurshid was given a warm welcome on flying into the Sri Lankan capital with Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and other officials for a five-day visit.

He said though he was in Colombo to attend a multilateral conference and not for a bilateral engagement, he would have the opportunity on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to convey India`s views and concerns to the Sri Lankan?government on issues like devolving more powers to Tamils and attacks on Indian fishermen in the seas off Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was planning to attend the three-day summit beginning on Friday, was last week forced to call off his plans because of competitive politics in Tamil Nadu and fear of isolation of the Congress party in the state ahead of next year`s elections.

Against the backdrop of an unanimous resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly last night, the second in recent times, demanding a total boycott of CHOGM by India, Khurshid said he was "perplexed" by the demand.

"We are doing a lot for Tamils of northern areas in Sri Lanka. We are involved in a big project of building 50,000 houses (in war-ravaged areas), laying roads and erecting infrastructure. Nobody is saying you should not be doing this," he said.

Five thousand of the houses in the northern areas have already been constructed.

"If we are not here, how can we be doing these things. Therefore, I am perplexed by the people who say we should not go to Sri Lanka. I find this logic somewhat...My job is to look into and represent in India`s enlightened national interest," he said.

First Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 08:26
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