India has lost an opportunity by not attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo last month, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam told the Telegraph in Calcuta.
The newspaper said the Lankan envoy had described as “unfortunate” Manmohan Singh’s absence from last month’s Commonwealth meeting in Colombo.
Kariyawasam denied knowledge of a visit by Prime Minister Singh to the Northern capital of Jaffna as announced by Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram last week.
“It was unfortunate that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo,” Sri Lanka’s high commissioner in India Prasad Kariyawasam told The Telegraph.
He said Singh’s decision to be absent at CHOGM was an “opportunity lost”.
The Lankan High Commissioner told the newspaper that not only would have Singh’s presence at the CHOGM been widely applauded, he would have also had the chance to see the “enormous progress” in the work done with Indian help in the northern province of Jaffna that is home to Tamils.
“The progress we have made in the northern province with Indian help is enormous. Had the PM visited Jaffna for CHOGM, he would have been able to see it himself. It would have helped the India-Sri Lanka partnership and the reconciliation process further. It was an opportunity lost,” Kariyawasam said. The envoy said the Lankan government had no information about any forthcoming visit by Singh.
The newspaper also quoted a senior official at the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi as saying that it was sad that Manmohan Singh succumbed to internal pressures without thinking about the long-standing relationship between the two countries.
The newspaper quoted a diplomat in Delhi as saying that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was “highly disappointed”. “When heads of all states were arriving at CHOGM, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got the biggest applause. This applause would have gone to Singh if he had attended the meeting because he would have appeared as the tallest leader of the region who did not succumb to any internal pressure,” the diplomat said.