The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi in two minds on Lanka request

New Delhi, Dec. 3: Sri Lanka has solicited India’s support for former foreign minister Lakshman Khadirgamar who is taking a shot at the Commonwealth secretary-general’s post, putting Delhi in a spot.

India has indicated its support for former New Zealand minister and incumbent Don McKinnon, who is looking for a second term.

Foreign secretary Shashank explained Delhi’s dilemma by pointing out that the Commonwealth members have reached a consensus to back McKinnon. “But Sri Lanka is a neighbour and a close friend and we would have to take a decision accordingly.”

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will leave for Abuja, the Nigerian capital, tomorrow to participate in the four-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm), where Khadirgamar’s fate will be known.

Vajpayee has decided to drop Ghana from his itinerary and will return to Delhi without taking a detour to Accra, the Ghanaian capital. The Ghana leg of the Prime Minister’s trip was always doubtful.

Vajpayee was supposed to start the African tour yesterday with a visit to Ghana and then leave for Nigeria. But the election results in the four states, due tomorrow, and the beginning of the monsoon session of Parliament forced Vajpayee to skip it.

Getting wind of his compulsions, the Ghanaian leaders, who were looking forward to Vajpayee’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, persuaded the Indian government to re-work the schedule and tag Accra to the latter half of the visit.

However, India today announced that the Prime Minister would not go to Ghana because of pressing “domestic engagements”.

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