CHOGM side events begin in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka today began the side events of the 54-nation Commonwealth Summit in which delegations from as many as 41 nations will participate.

PTI| Updated: Nov 10, 2013, 15:56 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka today began the side events of the 54-nation Commonwealth Summit in which delegations from as many as 41 nations will participate.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated the youth forum in the brand new conference hall constructed for the purpose in his southern hometown of Hambantota.

"We have 106 delegates taking part from 41 nations," Lalith Piyum Perera, chairman of the National Youth Council said.

The Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said that youth forum was a key activity in the Commonwealth movement.

"Sharing experience and learning from one another are key contributions to the global village that Commonwealth could gift", Sharma said.

The forum would help youth build a future where none are excluded or left behind, he added.

Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka`s youth, which comprise 26 per cent of its population, make a valuable contribution in the island`s post conflict development.
He said that his government ended the era in which the local youth had been deprived of opportunities due to terrorism - a reference to his military campaign against the LTTE.

Rajapaksa will host the delegates for lunch before moving from his hometown into the southern port town of Galle where the Commonwealth People`s Forum is to take place.

The third side event, the Commonwealth Business Forum will be held from November 12 to 14.

The main Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM) is scheduled to take place between November 15-17 here.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will head the Indian delegation to the next week`s summit after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided against undertaking the visit in view of the opposition by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress.