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Commonwealth chief to meet Manmohan Monday


New Delhi : Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma Sunday arrived here for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his senior ministers on developments in South Asia and issues relating to the 53-member grouping of former British colonies.

Sharma, India’s former high commissioner to Britain, will also call on Vice President Hamid Ansari and meet Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Monday.

Sharma, who arrived here after attending the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, is on his first official visit to India after taking over as Commonwealth Secretary General six months ago.

He will Tuesday meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

He will also meet Sports Minister M.S. Gill and discuss with him issues relating to the Commonwealth Games that India will host in 2010.

In his talks with Indian leaders, Sharma will discuss progress made in key focus areas agreed by leaders at the Commonwealth Summit in Kampala last year.

These include building respect and understanding between those of different faith, ethnicity and language; reforming the global – particularly financial – institutions; and progress on meeting the challenge of climate change.

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

Also figuring on his agenda will be discussions on how Commonwealth member-states could mark the association’s 60th anniversary year in 2009, and talks with Indian business leaders.

Sharma is the first Indian to head a major multilateral body after Binay Ranjan Sen, who led the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1956.