CHOGM 2013: PM Singh’s participation likely
October 6, 2013, 9:42 pm
By Shamindra Ferdinando
With Sri Lanka and India reaching an agreement on the establishment of the first Northern Provincial Council (NPC), in accordance with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the government expects India to be represented at the highest level at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo.
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), which had the backing of the Indian government, secured an overwhelming victory at the Sept. 21 polls.
India is under heavy pressure from various pro-LTTE groups to boycott three-day CHOGM 2013 scheduled to begin on Nov. 15. India is yet to confirm the participation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the first major international confab in Colombo since the conclusion of the war in May 2009.
Authoritative sources told The Island that the government was confident of a positive outcome from Indian External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid’s sudden visit to Colombo. Minister Khurshid is scheduled to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa tomorrow (08) for breakfast at Temple Trees.
Minister Khurshid was previously scheduled to address the inaugural session of a conference on the media role in conflict reporting organized by the ICRC, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia and Nelson Mandela Centre for Conflict Resolution in New Delhi tomorrow.
Sources said that the agreement between President Rajapaksa and the TNA, on the swearing in of former Justice C. V. Wigneswaran, paved the way for Minister Khurshid’s visit.
Having met the President, Khurshid, accompanied by a delegation of journalists from New Delhi, would fly to Palaly, Jaffna for meetings with Northern Province Governor Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri and newly sworn in Northern Province Chief Minister .
Minister Khurshid is also scheduled to visit an Indian sponsored housing project at Tellippalai, Jaffna to meet some of the beneficiaries of the Indian funded post-war recovery programme.
Sources said that Minister Khurshid’s meeting with President Rajapaksa and engagements in Jaffna would be preceded by a one-on-one with External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris. It would be followed by a joint press conference at the External Affairs Ministry, sources said, adding that the visiting minister was also scheduled to lay flowers at the IPKF memorial at Pelawatte, Battaramulla later in the day.
India lost over 1,500 officers and men fighting the LTTE during Oct. 1987-March 1990 period.
The first election to the then temporarily merged North-East Province was held on November 19, 1988, under the supervision of the Indian army. India arranged a no contest pact in the Northern Province to enable the then favourites, the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) to secure the NEPC (North East Provincial Council).