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Khurshid regrets PM not attending CHOGM

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today expressed regret that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not visit Jaffna, a feat undertaken by his British counterpart David Cameron, who became the first head of government to visit the war-torn northern province in Sri Lanka since its independence in 1948.

"Is it not sad? Who is to blame? I wanted my PM to go there first. I was the second Indian foreign minister to go there (after the war). But who do I blame for it. I am only disappointed that I could not take the prime minister to an area where we are building 50,000 houses. We can't show him this and the roads and projects that we are building (in Jaffna)," he told reporters.

Khurshid was answering questions on the historic visit Cameron made to Jaffna after the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth summit in a public relations disaster for Sri Lanka.

There were plans for Prime Minister Singh to visit Jaffna before going to Colombo for the summit but it was nixed by the strong opposition from Tamil Nadu. Northern province Chief Minister C S Wigneswaran had invited Singh to visit Jaffna.

Khurshid said he did not want to blame anyone.

"Let the people judge whether their (those objecting PM's visit to Sri Lanka) strategy has brought benefit. My objective is to get the Sri Lankans to get back on their feet and have self confidence," he said.

Asked about the divisions within the Congress party and the government on this issue, Khurshid said it was not a division as only different view points have been expressed.

While the Prime Minister did not visit Sri Lanka, it was decided that there will be no boycott because India has to remain engaged with Sri Lanka.

First Published: Fri, November 15 2013. 22:00 IST