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Manmohan's absence understood

2013 Nov 21

The Sri Lankan government says while the region would have benefited had Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh attended the Commonwealth summit, the reasons for his absence was nevertheless understood.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to New Delhi, Prasad Kariyawasam told the Economic Times in India that the summit was held in Asia after 24 years and therefore the highest-level of participation from India was expected.

“Many in Sri Lanka were disappointed that the prime minister could not make it to CHOGM. But, our political leadership understood the political compulsions before the PM. To my mind our region would have benefited from Indian PM’s presence in Colombo as top leaders from leading Commonwealth nations were present,” he said.

Asked about Sri Lanka’s ties with China and Pakistan and if that may have had an influence on Manmohan’s decision to skip CHOGM, Kariyawasam said that Sri Lanka’s relationship with India, China and Pakistan cannot be viewed as a ‘zero-sum game’ .

He recalled that Indo-Lankan ties go back to the days of Emperor Ashoka while Sri Lanka’s ties with China and Pakistan and economical.

“But we have no intentions to harm interests of any our friends including India, when we deal with other friends. We are very keen for regional stability in the Indian Ocean Region but pained to note resolution in the Tamil Nadu Assembly . Now that democracy has returned to the Northern Provinces in Sri Lanka following the elections, we want support from all our friends in India,” he added.

The High Commissioner says Sri Lanka wants India to be deeply involved in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka. He also said that while India’s efforts have largely focused on reconstruction efforts in Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan government hopes India would expand its presence in other parts of the country as well. (Colombo Gazette)

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