Commonwealth Sec Gen in India, to meet PM, EAM

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New Delhi, Oct 19 (UNI) Commonwealth Secretary General Kamlesh Sharma, who is currently in India on his first official visit home after taking over as the Secretary General in April, will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders on various issues.

Mr Sharma, who began his visit from Pune, where he was the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony of the third Commonwealth Youth Games yesterday, would be in India till October 22.

He would call on the Prime Minister tomorrow morning at Parliament.

In the afternoon, he would have a luncheon meeting with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for a dialogue on how the Indian corporate sector could do more to support the development of a Commonwealth network of business skills.

During his two-day stay in Delhi, he would also meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Minister of State for Youth and Sports M S Gill.

He would also pay courtesy calls on Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee, and the Leader of Opposition L K Advani.

During his meetings, the Secretary-General would discuss progress made by the Commonwealth in responding to mandates given to it by Heads of Government when they met in Kampala in November 2007.

These include work on building respect and understanding between those of different faith, ethnicity and language, on reforming the global (particularly financial) institutions, on the best policy and practice of transforming developing societies to achieve real political, economic and social progress, and on climate change.

He would also brief Dr Singh and others on preparations for the next Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009.

Mr Sharma would discuss developments in South Asia, in particular Commonwealth work in the area of governance and democracy.

He would discuss India's role in promoting sports as an instrument for development in the Commonwealth, as well as in strengthening the role of young people in local governance, through the Commonwealth Youth Programme's regional centre for Asia, located in Chandigarh.

The Secretary-General would also discuss how Commonwealth member states could mark the association's 60th anniversary year in 2009.

The London Declaration of a union of 'freely and equally associated states' was arrived at in 1949, after India decided to become a republic but maintain its membership of the Commonwealth.

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