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India to reconsider troops to Iraq

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June 11, 2004 10:26 IST

With the UN unanimously adopting the resolution on Iraq, India has promised to have a new look on the issue of sending troops to the war-ravaged country.

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"There is a resolution of the last Parliament on this issue in which we had given our opinion that we were against sending troops to Iraq. Now the situation has changed. There is a resolution unanimously passed in the United Nations and there are Arab members in it. We will look at it very carefully, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh said after a 60-minute meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"But I must emphasise that this matter will have to be placed before the government at the highest levels, so it would be premature for me to say aye or nay," he added.

Singh, who is here to participate in former US President Ronald Reagan's memorial service, was addressing a joint press conference with Powell on Thursday.

The minister said India is following the events in Iraq very carefully and is "delighted" that the US-UK tabled resolution has been unanimously adopted.

"That is a welcome step and we have always been in favour of the UN being involved in a central responsibility along with their friends and other members of the Security Council.
"With regard to Indian troops, nobody has asked us.  We'll look at the resolution very minutely. We are not in the Security Council. And we will take a decision when the time comes," Singh added.

Meanwhile, Powell expressed gratitude for India's support for the UN Security Council resolution on Iraq and cited Washington's close ties with New Delhi saying the US intends to build on that relationship.

"We discussed the full range of bilateral and regional issues. But I would just say the most important issue we touched on was the fact that US and India have a very good, strong relationship right now and we intend to not only keep it strong but to build on that relationship, to move forward," Powell said.

On cross-border terrorism against India from Pakistan, he said: "We have seen that the rate has gone down and we continue to monitor that rate and we continue to express our concern about the infrastructure [of terrorism] that remains

Singh said he had a very "frank, wide-ranging, lively,  occasionally amusing discussion" with Powell on "every single
aspect of our relationship."


T V Parasuram in Washington