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Nov 09, 2013 at 11:23pm IST

PM skips CHOGM meet in Sri Lanka, DMK chief expresses relief

New Delhi: DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Saturday expressed relief after the Centre decided that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not go to Colombo to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM).

Karunanidhi, however, said the participation of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in the event was debateable.

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Earlier, Karunanidhi had said, "The Prime Minister has a conscience, it is enough if he acts according to his conscience. I did not threaten on withdrawing support. It's been long time since we withdrew our support."

Sources in the government say that the decision will be formally communicated to Sri Lanka in the next 24 hours through a letter.

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An announcement of the decision is likely after the Prime Minister calls the CCPA meet on Sunday or Monday. The Tamil Nadu political parties and the Congress leaders from the state have been pressuring the PM not to visit Colombo. They have been campaigning that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has violated all human rights during the war with LTTE and the Lankan government should be charged with war crimes.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly had also recently adopted a resolution demanding a complete boycott of the event alleging that Sri Lanka had indulged in atrocities against ethnic Tamils.

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Union ministers V Narayanasamy, Jayanthi Natarajan and GK Vasan had too publicly opposed the Prime Minister's participation in the summit.

Although MEA has been favouring Singh's visit to Sri Lanka for CHOGM, maintaining that it was vital for him to be present at this meet as it will reflect India's interests and is also paramount to the nation's strategic and security interests. The officials were also keen that the Prime Minister takes the opportunity to visit Northern Province where India has given lot of assistance.

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It seems the decision was taken by the Congress as it is scared of losing its alliance partner DMK (currently not a member of the UPA) in an all important election year. The Prime Minister has come under intense pressure over his visit to the island nation.

However, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariawasam had warned India that the nations which don't attend will be isolated. Some veteran diplomats feel that surrendering before the Tamil parties will actually harm India's standing in the Common Wealth.