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Pranab Mukherjee 'satisfied' with UN visit

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has expressed his satisfaction over the outcome of his visit to United Nations.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 23:14 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has expressed his satisfaction over the outcome of his visit to United Nations, saying it had given him "an opportunity to put forward India's perspectives to a wide international audience".

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday night before his departure for home, he said his bilateral meetings with several world leaders were "very useful".

"I have benefited from the opportunity to meet several world leaders and participated in numerous meetings on the margins of the UN General Assembly. I also spent a day at Harvard, where I was privileged to share my views on India's security perspectives with a large and distinguished gathering," Mukherjee maintained.

During his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "we discussed our bilateral relations in some detail and also spent some time on the process of implementing the nuclear understanding reached between President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in their two summit meetings of July 2005 and March 2006", Mukherjee stated.

Recalling his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, he said both sides had agreed to ensure that the bilateral relationship continues to maintain the current momentum.

"We noted with satisfaction the fact that this year, our bilateral trade has already reached the target of $20 billion that we had set as a goal to reach by 2008. We also agreed to task our officials to ensure that the forthcoming visit of President Hu Jintao to India would be a milestone in our bilateral relationship," Mukherjee said.

He also referred to the meeting of the ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which was convened at the initiative of Russia, and said that such meetings of the four countries would form a useful method for coordinating positions in future.

Among those whom Mukherjee met were Secretary General Kofi Annan, NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop, President Stjepan Mesic of Croatia, French Minister for European Affairs Catherine Colonna, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis of Greece and Deputy Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli of Nepal.

"These meetings focused primarily on bilateral relations, topical international issues and items of common interest and concern. Additionally, in my meeting with the deputy prime minister of Nepal, we also exchanged views on the situation in South Asia," Mukherjee stated.

The minister also participated at an informal working luncheon meeting of the SAARC ministers hosted by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Morshed Khan.

"Apart from discussing implementation of the agenda set by SAARC leaders at last November's SAARC summit, we explored ways of expanding coordination at all levels within the group," he maintained.

In the Asian Cooperation Dialogue meeting, Mukherjee joined ministers from 22 countries to examine ways of taking forward the cooperative plans and endeavours of the group.

In the meeting with ministers of Commonwealth countries, Mukherjee said he "put forward India's case for the group to make more significant contributions in favour of the small states, and for the Commonwealth to bridge the digital divide".

First Published: Sep 28, 2006 22:51 IST