Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, with the U.S. Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who called on the former at his hotel in Washington on Sunday. PTI
The issue was raised by the U.S. Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, when he called on Mr. Advani on Sunday.
While substantive aspects of the bilateral defence cooperation and programmes were discussed, Mr. Rumsfeld used the occasion to press the issue of India sending a contingent of troops to help with the stabilisation of the situation in Iraq. Knowing India's track record in the realm of peacekeeping operations, the U.S. is keen on New Delhi's participation.
Mr. Advani and Mr. Rumsfeld also discussed the all-important issue of terrorism, especially its relevance to the subcontinent. Mr. Advani is said to have forcefully put forth New Delhi's position on crossborder terrorism adding that without an end to this any high-level dialogue between India and Pakistan was not likely.
They also discussed bilateral issues and both "expressed satisfaction'' at the pace and progress of defence cooperation between the two countries.
The next meeting of the Defence Policy Group is scheduled to be held here in the first week of August.
In what is being characterised as a "very special gesture'', the Indian Embassy said that Mr. Rumsfeld came to the hotel where Mr. Advani is staying and held substantive discussions with him. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes. "The Deputy Prime Minister has greatly appreciated this gesture."
Mr. Rumsfeld was earlier scheduled to meet Mr. Advani in the Pentagon but dropped by at the hotel as he was leaving Washington for an overseas trip.
He is also said to have delayed his departure by several hours to meet Mr. Advani.
Later, addressing the Indian American community during a reception hosted by the Indian Ambassador, Lalit Mansingh, Mr. Advani asserted that India would emerge victorious in the war against terrorism.
In the past three wars with Pakistan, India had emerged victorious, he said stressing that the war against terror was a different kind of a war, not anything like the two World Wars or the three wars India had fought. But the bottom line was that in this war, India had the determination.
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