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Cameron visits Jaffna; Khurshid sad PM could not

world Updated: Nov 16, 2013 08:56 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Commonwealth meet

Launching a massive public relation exercise with political underpinnings, British Prime Minister David Cameron flew to Tamil-dominated Jaffna hours after attending the inaugural session of the Commonwealth heads summit here on Friday.

“Isn’t it sad? I wanted my prime minister to go there,” said external affairs minister Salman Khurshid when asked about Cameron becoming the first president or prime minister to visit the Tamil dominated Northern province after the island nation gained independence in 1948.

Prime Minister Singh had visited Colombo in 2008 for the SAARC summit but didn’t visit the Tamil area then, though plans were afloat for him visiting Jaffna had he attended the CHOGM meet.

“Whom do we have to blame for that (PM skipping the summit). I am disappointed. I wanted him to have visited the northern areas where we have built 50,000 houses for the Tamils,” the minister said.

In a reference to opposition in Tamil Nadu against PM attending the meet and the calls for boycotting the CHOGM, Khurshid said, “We should ask ourselves whether it is a good a strategy.”

Read More: Sri Lanka: Tamil protesters mob British PM David Cameron’s car

The minister, leading the Indian delegation to the summit, also played down the issue when asked his comments on Congress party too being divided on Singh’s participation. He said expressing views don’t amount to having division and decisions are taken by consensus.

Cameron landed around 2.00pm IST at the Palaly airbase, adjacent to Jaffna town, in a Sri Lankan military plane.

“I’m the first prime minister or president to go to the north of Sri Lanka since 1948. I want to shine a light on chilling events there first hand,” he said on Twitter.

Read More: Don't turn Commonwealth into 'punitive' body, says Lanka

He met with chief minister of the province CV Vigneswaran, of the Tamil National Alliance. Cameron's convoy was mobbed by protesters, many of them women, in a bid to highlight the disappearance of their relatives soon after his arrival.

Cameron met with journalists at the at the Uthayan newspaper. Cameron also visited the burnt-out printing press of the newspaper.

Read More: CHOGM begins in shadow of human rights issues

Read More: PM has respect for Tamil sentiment, says govt

Read More: Sri Lanka president defends rights record, says have 'nothing to hide'