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Tharoor upset at fuss over Saudi as interlocutor remark

world Updated: Feb 28, 2010 19:30 IST

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Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Sunday took to Twitter to clarify his remarks on Saudi Arabia's potential role as an interlocutor in India-Pakistan ties.

"Good day of mtgs (meetings), marred in some Indian media by misunderstanding of word 'interlocutor'," Tharoor, who is accompanying Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, said in a tweet from Riyadh.

"An interlocutor is someone u speak to, nothing more," said Tharoor on the social networking site.

"If I speak to u, u are my interlocutor! I mentioned the Saudis as OUR interlocutors, i.e. the people we are here to speak to. Some misinterpretation," Tharoor wrote.

Tharoor had earlier said: "We feel Saudi Arabia has a long and close relationship with Pakistan and that makes Saudi Arabia a more valuable interlocutor to us."

He was responding to a question on whether India will seek Saudi Arabia's support to influence Pakistan to address India's concerns over terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory.

As a mini-storm erupted over Tharoor's remarks, he clarified that New Delhi's desire to seek Riyadh's support on terrorism related issues with Islamabad did not mean giving it the role of a mediator in India-Pakistan disputes.

He said he had never used the word 'mediation' or 'mediator' while talking about a possible Saudi role.

"No chance of my saying Saudi Arabia should be a mediator... Never said that or anything like it," Tharoor said a couple of hours after the media publicised his earlier remarks.

India is firmly opposed to any third-party role in its relations with Pakistan.

This is not the first time Tharoor has landed in a controversy over his remarks on foreign policy issues.

Earlier, Tharoor faced hostile reaction from his own partymen when he allegedly questioned the relevance of non-alignment and Third World-centric foreign policy espoused by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.

At that time, he convened a press conference and lashed out the media for misreporting what he said in his capacity as a chair at a public lecture.