Indian Ministers have no time for Norwegian facilitators
The high-powered Indian delegation comprising the Defence and External Affairs Ministers attending the state funeral of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar turned down a request from the Norwegian delegation that was in Colombo for the same occasion, The Sunday Times learns. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh arrived in Colombo on a special aircraft on Monday after attending India's national day celebrations in New Delhi.

The plane landed more than half an hour late. The delegation had then sent a message saying they wanted to pay their respects first at the late Minister's residence before attending the funeral ceremonies at Independence Square.

The presence of India's Defence Minister was seen by political analysts here as a significant message from Sri Lanka's neighbour. The Norwegian delegation led by Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, included Deputy Minister Vigar Helgesen. Special Envoy Erik Solheim did not attend the funeral. The Norwegian delegation had requested a meeting with the Indian delegation, but the request was turned down.

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Colombo said the Indian delegation was on a tight schedule, and they agreed that Mr. Petersen could call Mr. Natwar Singh on Friday after their visit to London to meet LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham. Meanwhile, in New Delhi later this week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders had requested Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to lend his support to the Government in its peace process with the LTTE, and its efforts at combating terrorism.
The UNP Leader had assured the Indian leaders of his support on these fronts and said his only difference with the Government was on the date of the Presidential elections.

On Thursday, the UNP voted in favour of the Government's imposition of a state of emergency to help in the investigations on Mr. Kadairgamar's assassination.

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