Olympics: China invites Sonia, ignores PM

New Delhi, Jul 15: China has decided to invite Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games which is scheduled to be held on on 8 August in Beijing. All other prominent heads of state and government such as US President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been invited to attend the function.

However sources in the Goverment said that Sonia Gandhi was unlikely to go because of the political crisis facing the Central government, in the absence of a formal invitation for the Prime Minister, it will be sports minister M.S. Gill who would represent India at the ceremonies.The ministry of external affairs declined to comment when asked whether not receiving an invitation for Singh constitutes a diplomatic snub.
Sanjaya Baru, the media adviser to Singh, said he “was not aware" that the Prime Minister had not received an invitation.

It is unclear why the Chinese have choosen to not invite Singh. One diplomat, who didn"t want to be identified, claimed that “China would have invited the Indian Prime Minister if they had known that he wanted to come."

Meanwhile, some officials in the Prime Minister"s Office note tried to downplay the impact of Singh not being at the Games when so many other heads of government and state will hobnob with senior Chinese leadership.

They point out that Singh visited Beijing in January, met Chinese President Hu Jintao during the G-8 summit in Japan earlier this month and is also likely to attend the East Asia Summit that is also happening in Beijing in late-October.

“The PM has already met the Chinese president twice this year, and may go again for the East Asia Summit," one official said. “Going to Beijing for a third time might become too much."

That is, if China does extend a late invitation.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 12:22 [IST]
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