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Australian FM to attend CHOGM

2013 Nov 12

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will participate in this week's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.



The summit, which opens in Colombo on Friday, aims to tackle a range of economic, social and diplomatic issues affecting the 53-member bloc.



Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said he was looking forward to highlighting his country's "tremendous transformation" after decades of civil war, which ended in 2009.



Ms Bishop says she hopes Colombo will use the opportunity as CHOGM host to "underline its commitment to freedom, human rights and post-conflict reconciliation."



But the war's bitter legacy has dominated the build-up, with the prime ministers of Canada and India boycotting the summit over alleged abuses committed during the conflict.



Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reaffirmed his decision to attend the Commonwealth summit, saying it was important to maintain a good relationship with Sri Lanka.



"I certainly don't want us to trash one of the very long-standing and important bodies that we are a senior member of," he said.



In Sri Lanka, Ms Bishop will meet Sri Lankan government ministers to discuss trade and investment, human rights and combating people smuggling.



The foreign minister will then travel to India to hold discussions with government and business leaders in New Delhi and Mumbai from November 15-18.



Ms Bishop will also formally open the offices of the Australian Consulate General in Mumbai.



"I am pleased to be the first minister of this government to visit India, an important strategic partner for Australia," she said. (ABC/AFP)

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