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Pranab bridging distances in New York

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September 21, 2006 13:01 IST
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee met with the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly summit.

Mukherjee, who attended President George W Bush's reception shortly after arriving in New York, met NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and discussed current issues and political perspectives, in particular covering areas relating to the field of regional security, Indian officials said.

Mukherjee also met Croatian President Stjepan Mesic on Wednesday and discussed the potential role of Croatia as a gateway into Europe, apart from other topical regional issues.

The minister, who is heading India's 12-member delegation of parliamentarians to the UN in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's absence, held discussions on issues like the ongoing logjam in the negotiations at the World Trade Organisation and issues relating to energy conservation and energy from renewable sources during a meeting of Brazil, Russia, China and India that was convened by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim attended the meeting.

'There was also a brief discussion on the situation in the Middle East,' the officials said in a statement, adding that the leaders agreed that such meetings would be useful for coordinating the countries' positions in future.

During his week-long stay in New York, Mukherjee is expected to hold dozen-odd bilateral meetings apart from addressing the general assembly on September 27. He will visit Harvard University next week to deliver a lecture. India's Ambassador Ronen Sen will hold a reception for the visiting minister at the Indian consulate in New York on Sunday.

During his address to the general assembly, Mukherjee is expected to make a call for an early establishment of an international convention to combat terrorism and push for reform of the United Nations, including the UN Security Council.
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York

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