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Kalam rolls out reforms agenda

Addressing Parliament's joint session, the President outlined Govt's policies.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 19:48 IST

Against the backdrop of Left parties' serious differences with the government over Iran and nuclear deal with the US, President APJ Abdul Kalam on Thursday made it clear that foreign policy is guided by enlightened national interest.

He disclosed that major initiatives are underway for expansion of investment, trade and technology transfers and a framework for defence cooperation with Washington.

Expressing concern over infiltration and cross border terrorism, he asked Pakistan to fulfill its commitments in this regard. He reiterated government's commitment to the composite dialogue process with Pakistan.

Giving a preview of the government's policy initiatives in the coming fiscal in his address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament, he expressed its determination to wage a relentless war against terrorism, joining those committed to this battle from across the world.

Kalam also spoke on

Economic reforms

Combatting terrorism

Sexual harassment Bill

Relations with the US

Minorities' progress

Ahead of the Budget, he rolled out a reforms agenda for the economy announcing ambitious plans in several sectors including infrastructure, a new civil aviation policy and creation of a common market for agriculture.

Without taking the name of Iran, on whose nuclear ambitions the UPA coalition and the key supporters - Left -, are divided, Kalam said, "The foreign policy of my government is, as has always been the case, guided by enlightened national interest. It has heen oriented to enlarge our policy choice."

The President said India expected to again access to international cooperation for enlargement of civilian nuclear energy sector based on the reciprocal commitments of India and the US in the joint statement of July 18 during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington last year.

"The India-US relationship also encompasses many more important issues. Major initiatives are underway to encourage the expansion of investment, trade and technology transfers, accelerate cooperation in agricjlture, health and human resource development in cooperation for energy security, a framework for defence cooperation and expanding cooperation on key global challenges," he said.

Referring to domestic political issues, Kalam said the government has remained deeply committed to national security and pursued a two-pronged approach of reaching out to disaffected sections of the society while dealing firmly with terrorists and other anti-national forces in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir.

"My government has also expressed its willingness to talk to all political groups to address their grievances, real or imaginary.

"At the same time, my government is steadfast in its resolve to combat terrorism, militancy and extremism and to uphold the rule of law," he said recalling that it had acted swiftly to deal with terrorist attacks in various parts of the country, including in the national Capital and in Bangalore, at the temple of learning, the Indian Institute of Science.

Budget Session likely to be stormy

With Left friends turning foes on Iran issue, the Congress-led UPA will be in the firing line as never before in the Parliament.

BJP-led Opposition has readied its arsenal on issues raging from Bihar to Bofors seeking to corner the Government.

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 10:43 IST