Even as the Centre remains undecided over whether to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, British High Commissioner to India James Bevan has said that his country wants India to participate in the meeting as it is an important player in the Commonwealth. Speaking to CNN-IBN's Foreign Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar Haidar, Bevan also conceded that British Prime Minister David Cameron will raise the issue of human right violations during his visit to the island nation.
Here's an excerpt of the interview:
Suhasini Haidar: This commonwealth comes surrounded by controversy particularly over the venue. Human rights groups, other countries asking that in fact the Commonwealth not be held in Sri Lanka because of the ongoing human rights violations or the allegations of them against the Sri Lankan government. Has Britain at any point rethought the idea of having the Commonwealth there?
James Bevan: We decided several months back that Prime Minister will represent the Britain at the CHOGM for two reasons: firstly we are strong believers in Commonwealth and want to show a support for it and secondly we do have concerns about those developments in Sri Lanka. And we think that it is right for us to go and express the concerns directly to the Sri Lankan authorities and that is what our Prime Minister will do this time in Sri Lanka.
Suhasini Haidar: In India too there have been protests too by many members of the government uncomfortable with Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh going to represent India at the Commonwealth. As a member of the commonwealth how important is it for the Prime Minister to visit?
James Bevan: Well that decision is for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take.
Suhasini Haidar: Even so when you look at CHOGM, it is the heads of the government summit. Would it be a snub to the Commonwealth if Prime Minister decides not to go?
James Bevan: India is a hugely important player in the Commonwealth and we very much value its participation in these meetings. The decision is one that your Prime Minister has to make. I am sure that David Cameron will very much welcome if Prime Minister Singh joins him in Sri Lanka but that is a matter for the Indian government.