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Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 09.45 GMT

I wanted our PM to visit Jaffna first – Indian FM


India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid expressed regret on Friday 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 Northern Province 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)," Times of India reported quoting Minister Khurshid.

"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," the Minister said.

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.
"I think to say that our party and the Cabinet was divided is unfair to them. Everything was taken into account — short term and long term issues — and a view prevailed that we should not boycott but we should remain engaged (with Sri Lanka)," he said.

The minister said India can only express its concerns while it was for the people and government of Sri Lanka to address them.

"Our job is to help them and incentivize them to do it. It is a sovereign government and it is their responsibility. We are impacted and affected (by events here) and the Sri Lankan government has to address them because it helps both of us," he said.

"If we can be of some help, we will be of help," he said.




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Last modified: November 16, 2013.

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