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India yet to decide whether PM will make Sri Lanka trip

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

India has yet to decide whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka amid mounting pressure on him to boycott the event, a foreign ministry official said Saturday.

The spokesman's statement came amid widespread Indian media reports that Singh would skip next week's meeting in Colombo.

Singh is being pressed by Tamil groups in India and three government ministers not to attend the meeting of the 53-nation bloc to protest against the alleged massacre of Tamil civilians in the last days of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is due to run from November 15 to November 17.

"We have not yet communicated to the host the outcome of our internal decision-making process," foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told a news conference in New Delhi.

"It is normal in diplomatic practice to make this public once we have communicated (the decision to the host)," Akbaruddin said when asked about Singh's plans for the summit.

The pressure on Singh to avoid the meeting comes after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged his counterparts in April to follow him in boycotting CHOGM to protest against alleged Sri Lankan human rights abuses.

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

"Some of the things we are not fully satisfied are concerns related to the wellbeing of the Tamil minority community there" regarding the constitutional amendment "and the commitment to move ahead" on the matter, Akbaruddin said.

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

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.

The Congress party is keen not to alienate potential supporters with national elections due by May 2014.

Colombo has resisted international pressure to probe allegations that its troops killed 40,000 civilians in the final push against Tamil separatist rebels four years ago that ended the civil war.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131109/india-yet-decide-whether-pm-will-make-sri-lanka-trip