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Jairam's comments embarrass India, govt distances itself

Source: PTI
September 08, 2006 21:49 IST
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Embarrassed by the comments made by Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh with regard to utility of India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) forum, New Delhi has distanced itself from the remarks, saying these did not reflect the government policy.

Ramesh, had in an interview to a Brazilian newspaper, reportedly ridiculed the idea of IBSA, evoking objection from Brazil ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit there.

"IBSA will a powerful bloc in South-South cooperation with echoes of non-alignment in earlier times but from the economic point of view, IBSA is little fictitious," Ramesh had reportedly told Estado do Sao Paulo newspaper.

The minister had also rejected the idea of India and Brazil being 'natural allies,' saying it was a 'little naive.'

In the wake of this development, New Delhi conveyed to the Brazilian envoy in New Delhi that Ramesh's comments were not the views of the government, sources said. A similar message was conveyed by Indian envoy in Brasilia Hardeep Singh Suri, they said.

Asked whether Brazil had expressed its displeasure to India over the minister's comments, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters that certain interest' was expressed on the reported remarks. He said India attaches great value to the IBSA and trilateral cooperation under the forum.

IBSA is only three years old during which it has achieved considerable degree of progress, with 'proven complementarities.'

"We are quite optimistic for cooperation among the three countries," Saran said. He said there was a lot of potential for cooperation among the three countries, particularly energy and health.

After Brazil's protest, Suri had sent a report to the Prime Minister's Office and ministry of external affairs, prompting the government to launch damage-control exercise.

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