'Want close ties with US' | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

'Want close ties with US'

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi
May 16, 2004 03:03 PM IST

Cong also insisted there would be no major changes in relations with China.

The Congress, all set to lead a coalition government, favours "closest relations" with the US and will "resolutely continue" the peace process with Pakistan while making it clear that there will be "no abrupt departures" in India's policy towards China.

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"We are for the closest relations with the US. It is in our interest and it is in their interest (to move in this direction). We are two great democracies," K Natwar Singh, widely tipped to become the new foreign minister, said on Sunday.

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Singh, chairman of the AICC foreign affairs department, said the foreign policy to be pursued by the new government will be infused with "political realism".

Observing that the "whole Iraqi misadventure is a disaster", he said "as friends of the Americans, it is our duty to share our concerns about Iraq with them. That is friendship, not subservience."

On the US suggestion that with UN presence in Iraq after June 30 by when the coalition forces have expressed their readiness to withdraw, countries like India could extend support, including sending its troops to work under the aegis of the world body in the war-ravaged country, he said, "We will examine this very carefully because we don't want to annoy Iraq to satisfy some other countries".

"We will find out what is the role of the UN? What is the role of the Iraqi Council? What will be the role of the US, both on the civil side and the military side. Who will do the backseat driving?", Singh said.

On the strategic partnership with the US under which the two countries have agreed to expand cooperation on the "trinity" issues, 73-year old Singh said "We will have to examine what briefs and papers are there as well as the background".

"These are complicated issues", he said. In January this year, President George W Bush and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had agreed to expand cooperation in civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programmes and high technology besides stepping up dialogue on missile defence.

Singh said the Congress and its allies in government "want to further strengthen and widen" bilateral relations with the US.

Asked whether he saw any hurdles coming in the way from the Left parties which have been critical of several US actions, he said "No, we will explain to them" that betterment of relations was in "our vital national interest".

"The Indian foreign policy has never been wedded to any dogma or doctrine. Look at the flexibility in Chinese policies. They are a Communist country. They have a very, very close relationship with the US in almost all areas," he said.

"This should be a lesson to our socialist friends that one has to be realistic," Singh said.

To a question whether a new road map would be charted out to take the peace process forward with Pakistan, Singh, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, said, "The peace process will be resolutely continued."

Observing that there had been five changes in the policy towards Pakistan during the Vajpayee regime, he said "we will have a consistent Pakistan policy and every aspect will be discussed under the 1972 Simla Agreement and subsequent declarations and agreements".

Singh said throughout the last five years, the Congress party had given its "broad support" to the Vajpayee government for improving relations with Pakistan. "But there has been total confusion on this on the part of the NDA government".

"We supported Prime Minister Vajpayee going to Pakistan in February, 1999. But what did that visit produce-Kargil. Then it was aar-paar ki ladai after the attack on Parliament. There was Operation Parakram. What was the objective? What did it achieve. President Pervez Musharraf said he had made Indian Army run without firing a shot. This is some achievement of the Vajpayee government."

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