Saturday, Mar 08, 2003
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By Amit Baruah
In the days ahead, an attack by the American-led "coalition of the willing'' on Iraq is likely and India will have to take a position on the action. By convening the all-party meeting, the Government has taken a welcome step of consultation across the political spectrum. The External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, is expected to be present at the meeting.
According to informed sources, during the recent telephone conversation between the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the U.S. President, George W. Bush, India's preference for the U.N. route was made clear. The telephone call itself came a day after Mr. Vajpayee spoke in Parliament of a "middle path'' on Iraq which he referred to as an "old policy'' for India. The Prime Minister, who said last month in Kuala Lumpur that the U.S. role in Iraq was such that it could not be supported, also maintained in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that after the end of the Cold War, the world was dominated by "one nation'' and other countries needed to think deeply about it.
Referring to Pakistan, he said if Washington was unable to prevail on Islamabad on the issue of cross-border terrorism, it was an expression of "American weakness." In recent days, Mr. Vajpayee has not hesitated in criticising the U.S. while stating that India should take the "middle path'' on Iraq.
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