Decision imminent on PM visit to Colombo

New Delhi, Nov 8 : A decision is imminent on whether or not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the Commonwealth summit in Colombo in view of strong domestic opposition, highly-placed sources said Friday.

"The decision would be announced either tomorrow (Saturday) or the following day," a source told IANS.

The Congress Core Committee headed by party president Sonia Gandhi met Friday for over an hour to take a final decision on the prime minister's trip to Sri Lanka.

"A decision will be taken keeping in mind the interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the overwhelming opinion expressed for and against by the political parties in Tamil Nadu and strategic and national interests of the country, the view of the newly-elected chief minister of Tamil-majority province," party spokesman Randip Singh Surjewala told reporters here.

If the prime minister goes to Sri Lanka, then he would visit both Colombo and Jaffna, the capital of Tamil-majority Northern Province which the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) rules.

The new chief minister of the province, C.V. Wigneswaran, has invited the prime minister to visit Jaffna, the Tamil heartland.

There has been strong opposition from political parties in Tamil Nadu, including the DMK and AIADMK, to Manmohan Singh attending the Commonwealth summit.

Critics of Sri Lanka say that Colombo committed "war crimes" against innocent Tamils during the final stages of the war that destroyed the LTTE in May 2009.

The Sri Lankan regime has also been accused of going back on promises to give autonomy to Tamil areas.

Building up pressure, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Friday wrote another letter to Manmohan Singh condemning the "repeated harassment" of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy and its "highhanded belligerence".

She sought the prime minister's personal intervention to secure the immediate release of 86 fishermen and 42 fishing boats from Sri Lanka.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi meantime asked Manmohan Singh to act according to his conscience and urged India to boycott the Commonwealth summit.

The government feels that the prime minister's absence at an event like Commonwealth summit could affect India's image internationally and hence he must participate.

Union ministers V. Narayanasamy, Jayanthi Natarajan and G.K. Vasan have voiced their opposition to the prime minister's visit to Sri Lanka but the external affairs ministry is all for it.

--IANS (Posted on 08-11-2013)

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