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Tamil Nadu parties slam Khurshid for Sri Lanka meet nod

2013 Oct 28

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CHENNAI: Political parties in Tamil Nadu on Sunday expressed their anguish and disappointment over external affairs minister Salman Khurshid's reported remarks assuring his participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo next month. 

"I can say I will be there. The issue of Sri Lankans Tamils remains important for us," Khurshid had said in an interview to Times Now on Saturday when asked about India's participation in the summit. Asked whether the Prime Minister would go to Colombo, he said a decision would be taken at the right time. "By not engaging with Sri Lanka, India will be losing out. Even if it means raising the issue of Tamil fishermen, how can India do it without engaging the Lankan government?" Khurshid had wondered. 

DMK chief M Karunanidhi urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to announce India's boycott of the CHOGM meet. He said Khurshid's remarks were ill-timed as the Tamil National Alliance that won the Northern provincial elections in Sri Lanka recently, had decided to boycott the event. Khurshid's remarks were shocking and disappointing, Karunanidhi said in a statement. 

"I insist that the PM makes the announcement in this regard immediately," said Karunanidhi whose party pulled out of the UPA in March this year over the Centre's handling of the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. 

In a statement, PMK leader S Ramadoss also condemned Khurshid's remarks and asked the PM to remove him from the cabinet. "When the government has not yet taken a final decision on the participation, how can the external affairs minister declare India's participation," Ramadoss asked. 

Karunanidhi also recalled that the PM had recently written to him, saying that a decision on the issue of his participation in the CHOGM conference would be taken only after considering all relevant factors, including the sentiments of DMK and the Tamil people. 

The DMK chief took exception to Sri Lankan envoy to India Prasad Kariawasam's statement that New Delhi would get isolated if it did not participate in the CHOGM meet. "Tamils should unitedly oppose his remarks," Karunanidhi said, adding, "Kariawasam has spoken against a unanimous resolution adopted in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday, demanding India's complete boycott of the CHOGM meet." 

At a meeting in Delhi, DMDK leader Vijayakanth reiterated his party's stand that India should not participate in the meet. "If our nation is going to participate in the Commonwealth Summit, it would pave the way for Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to claim that ethnic cleansing wasn't reported in his country," he said. 

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