Vice president heading to Australia for CHOGM

October 24th, 2011 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Vice President Hamid Ansari will head to Australia Thursday to represent India at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that will focus on a host of global issues, ranging from the financial crisis and democracy to climate change and food security.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set to attend three multilateral summits overseas in November, the government had requested Ansari, a former diplomat, to represent India at the 54-nation CHOGM that brings together former British colonies.

Accompanied by senior officials and a large media delegation, Ansari will head to Perth early Thursday morning, soon after the Diwali celebrations.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will be in Perth Tuesday to participate in the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Commonwealth grouping. He will fly to Tokyo for the India-Japan strategic dialogue from Perth.

There were some protocol issues related to Ansari’s visit to Australia, but those have been resolved now, reliable sources said.

Sources said that the Commonwealth Secretariat earlier refused to grant Ansari the same status and attendant protocol honours as that of a head of government. But India put its foot down, making it clear that in the Indian system the vice present was higher in protocol than even the prime minister in order of precedence.

The official theme for CHOGM 2011 is ‘Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience’. The summit meeting will seek to promote democracy, the rule of law and good governance across the world.

The summit, to be held at Perth Oct 28-30, will be preceded by a meeting of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group in London and the Meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The leaders will discuss a host of pressing global issues, including the global financial situation, food security, counter-terrorism, climate change and women empowerment.

The summit will also discuss the recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group on the modernisation of the organisation.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has put “renewal of the Commonwealth itself” at the top of the priority list for the summit.

A charter of Commonwealth values as well as a Commonwealth commissioner for democracy, human rights and the rule of law are among some of important initiatives that could be unveiled at the summit.

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