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No decision yet on PM attending CHOGM: MEA

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Story Dated: Saturday, November 09, 2013 09:53 hrs EST

Amid indication that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to attend the CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka, the external affairs ministry on Saturday said no decision has been taken on the visit which has been opposed by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress.

Spokesperson in the MEA Syed Akbaruddin said government was yet to communicate to Sri Lanka who will lead the Indian delegation at the Commonwealth heads of government summit on November 15-16 and did not give a direct reply when asked whether Vice-President Hamid Ansari would go there if Singh decides to skip the meet.

"Decision making in terms of participation in an international event stems or starts when we receive an invitation. And there are series of processes after that. As an open and pluralist democracy, we have been in that process," he said.

Akrabuddin said a decision on the matter has not been conveyed to Sri Lanka yet.

"For us, as diplomats the process ends when we confirm to the host government the composition of our delegation for an international event. We have not yet done that....

"We have not yet communicated to the host the outcome of our internal decision making process and it is normal in diplomatic practice to make this public once we communicated," he said in reply to questions on the issue.

At a meeting of the Congress Core group at the residence of Prime Minister yesterday, a view had emerged that it would be "difficult" for Singh to visit Sri Lanka at this juncture, party sources said.

They said that the meeting took note of the fact that all political parties in Tamil Nadu are opposed to a visit by the Prime Minister to Sri Lanka and that the state assembly had passed a unanimous resolution against India participating in the Commonwealth summit.

Asked if there was a possibility of Vice-President Hamid Ansari representing India at the CHOGM if Singh decides not to go, Akrabudin did not give a direct reply.

He, however, said in 10 summit level meetings since 1993, the Prime Minister represented India five times while on four occasions, ministers had headed the Indian delegation. There was one instance of the Vice-President representing India.

"So what you can summarize from this is that what we have followed in terms of participation in the CHOGM is an approach of something akin to horses for courses.

"We focused on what is required for our national interest, our foreign policy priorities and our international obligations. Taking those into account we have our delegations led by different people," he said.

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