India mum on PM Sri Lanka trip amid boycott pressure

India refused to say Saturday whether Premier Manmohan Singh would attend a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka amid local media reports he would likely boycott the event over alleged human rights abuses by Colombo.

Singh is being pressed by Indian Tamil groups and several powerful federal ministers to skip the 53-nation meeting to protest the alleged massacre of Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan forces in 2009, at the end of the island's decades-long civil war.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) runs from November 15-17.

"We've not yet communicated to the host the outcome of our internal decision-making," foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters, declining to elaborate.

The Hindustan Times newspaper quoted an unnamed ruling Congress party source as saying it would be "very difficult" for Singh to attend the meeting, given strong domestic objections to his participation.

Colombo has resisted international pressure to probe charges its troops killed 40,000 civilians in the final push against Tamil separatist rebels that ended the conflict.

India has 62 million Tamils in its southern Tamil Nadu state who share close religious and cultural ties with their Sri Lankan counterparts.

Congress is keen not to alienate potential supporters with elections due by May 2014, even at the expense of worsening ties with its southern neighbour.

The government spokesman said Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed would represent India at the ministerial level.

The foreign ministry spokesman added New Delhi was "not fully satisfied" with progress on Sri Lanka's pledge to implement a 1987 constitutional amendment to give regional autonomy to the island's Tamil minority.

The pressure on Singh to avoid the summit comes after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged his counterparts in April to follow him in boycotting CHOGM.

Indian Tamil political parties as well as the main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, have also urged Singh not to attend the meeting.

Pawan Kapoor, another senior foreign ministry official, said economic matters would be at the centre of the Colombo talks.

"The Sri Lankans have made it clear they want the focus back on development and on climate-vulnerable small states to access financing and solutions on debt challenges of small states," Kapoor said.