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PM's persuasive skills win the day for India

Besides Manmohan, British PM Gordon Brown also played a key role in bringing about the consensus on Kamalesh Sharma, new Secy-Gen of the Commonwealth.

world Updated: Nov 25, 2007 18:35 IST
HS Rao

It was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's persuasive skills and India's growing economic clout that prevailed on the Commonwealth Heads of Government to reach a consensus in favour of New Delhi's nominee Kamalesh Sharma as the new Secretary-General of the 53-member body.

Besides, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a friend of India, also played a key role in bringing about the consensus in favour of India, sources told PTI on Sunday.

But Prime Minister Singh's presence in Kampala and his suave manners and persuasive skills won the day for India, sources added.

Sixty-six year-old Kamalesh Sharma, himself a veteran diplomat and India's High Commissioner to the UK, had also toured extensively visiting as many as 40 countries in the run up to the CHOGM to ensure that he succeeds Don McKinnon at the end of his 2nd 4-year-term in March next.

His closest rival, Michael Frendo, foreign minister of Malta, was very much in the race along with Mohan Kaul, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council, till the last minute.

According to sources, Sharma may continue as India's High Commissioner in London till April 1 when he takes over as the Commonwealth Secretary General.

Having immense experience in dealing with global issues, Sharma has served with distinction at various key positions including as India's Permanent Representative to the UN and spokesperson for developing countries in the UNCTAD during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

Career diplomat Sharma has also played a key role in both South-South and North-South relations.

Educated at St Stephen's College, Delhi and King's College, Cambridge, Sharma has served as India's permanent representative in New York during which he chaired the Working Group on Financing for Development and the successful consensus building that he has achieved led to the conference yielding the 'Monterrey Consensus' in the conference in Mexico.

The career diplomat was closely engaged in the process which led to the formulation and adoption of the 'Millennium Development Goals.'

Sharma also had the distinction of being the first Special Representative of UN Secretary General to independent East Timor where he was directly engaged in all aspects of nation building and safeguarding its security.

He becomes the first-ever Indian and the first Asian in more than 40 years to be selected to the top slot in the 42-year-old grouping of former British colonies. A bid by Jagat Mehta in 1985 did not fructify.