'Pak still controls terror flow'
The PM's remarks came ahead of his meeting with Pak President.Updated: Sep 14, 2005 18:25 IST
A day before he hosts a dinner for President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has done some plain-speaking on the violence in Jammu and Kashmir, telling US President George W Bush that Pakistan still controls the flow of terror into the state.
"This (flow) must stop for any real progress to be made in the peace process," he told the US leader at a meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes,shortly after arriving on a four-day visit during which he will address the UN General Assembly and meet with other top world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao.
Singh, who has maintained that he continued to trust Musharraf and that he was looking forward to meeting at dinner here, gave this assessment of the Indo-Pak peace process in response to Bush's queries on the subject.
Another important topic at the meeting, held at Bush's request, was the "landmark" agreement reached between the two leaders in July under which the US Administration would seek Congressional approval to lift restrictions on supplies of equipment and fuel for India's civilian nuclear programme subject to India also fulfilling its commitments, including separating its civilian and military nuclear facilities.
Bush told the Prime Minister that he remained fully committed to the agreement and hoped that he would get the US Congressional approval for it. In response, Singh said he had Indian Parliament's backing for the agreement, although he was surprised that his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been sharply critical of it.
In a delicate balancing act with regard to the ticklish issue of India's stand on Iran's nuclear programme, which has generated criticism in Washington, Singh told Bush that diplomacy should be given a chance, but at the same time Teheran must fulfil its international obligations.
On Iran, President Bush said there certain developments were causing concern and the Prime Minister reiterated India's stand that it was totally opposed to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and that Teheran's programme should be done within the ambit of the international obligations it had made.
With the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) set to give its report on Iran's nuclear programme, he said diplomacy should be given a chance and promised to work constructively on it. The two agreed to work together on the Board of Governors of the IAEA.
"India's preference is that a consensus should be worked on the issue," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters on the 30-minute meeting between the two leaders.
The discussions on the Iranian nuclear programme took place against the background of criticism by some US Congressmen on recent reported statements of External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh during his recent trip to Iran.
No double standards
Replying to questions, Saran said he did not think there were any double standards on this. Both France and US had stated that they would negotiate with other partners in the Nuclear Suppliers Group for lifting restrictions on India.
While sticking to India's position on Iran fulfilling the obligations against nuclear proliferation, the Prime Minister also said India did not want nuclear proliferation in its neighbourhood.
Singh was assisted in his discussions with Bush by his National Security Adviser MK Narayanan while the US President was assisted by his NSA Steve Hadley.
Dinner with Malaysian PM
The Prime Minister later attended a dinner hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdulla Badawi for former Chairmen of NAM in which issues like reforms of the UN were discussed.
On the sidelines of the UNGA, the External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh attended a trilateral meeting of India, Russia and China to discuss multilateral issues.
A review of the progress of the Composite Dialogue process is on the anvil and Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek are expected to figure prominently in the talks between Singh and Musharraf.
The two leaders had met in April in Delhi on the sidelines of an Indo-Pak cricket match close on the heels of the flagging off of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service.
The Prime Minister had recently met a Hurriyat delegation in Delhi and offered to consider reduction of the level of troops inside Jammu and Kashmir if violence and infiltration from across the border stopped. A Hurriyat team led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is also scheduled to meet Musharraf after the Prime Minister leaves for home.
UN plenary session
The UN plenary this year will focus on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as also implementation of the outcomes of other relevant major UN conferences and summits.
It is expected to come out with an Outcome Document addressing UN reforms and combating the current and emerging global challenges and threats.
The continuing fight against terrorism across the world, the issue of UN reform and the developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East would also be the focus of the 60th UNGA session.
Agenda of PM's speech
In his address to the UNGA, the Prime Minister is expected to make a strong case for India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council and its role in the international fight against terrorism.
New Delhi regards reforms of the UN as a continuous process encompassing elements such as revitalisation of the General Assembly, strengthening of the Economic and Social Council, reform of the secretariat machinery and expansion of the Security Council and reform of its working methods.
India also places high priority on the conclusion of a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism and looks forward to working together with other countries in resolving the outstanding issues in the negotiations on the draft.
On the sidelines of the UNGA, the Prime Minister is also participating in a function at which President Bush will launch the UN Democracy Fund for which India has announced a substantial financial contribution with the objective of assisting in globally strengthening the values of freedom, pluralism and rule of law.
First Published: Sep 14, 2005 08:37 IST