Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003
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India & World
By Sridhar Krishnaswami
"... it is a decision that each country needs to make on its own, depending on its interests and its concerns about the situation in Iraq," the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said.
"Certainly there is ample ground in Resolution 1483 which encourages countries to participate in stabilisation," Mr. Boucher said and pointed out that the administration was in discussion with a "long list" of countries about participation in the stabilisation of Iraq and that Washington welcomed the countries that had decided to participate.
He emphasised that while the United States would have liked to see India's participation in Iraq, the decision not to would not have an impact in the bilateral relationship and that the continuation of the transformation of the relationship was important to Washington.
" ...we would have hoped that India would have made a different choice, that they would be there, but I think at the same time need to reiterate that India remains an important strategic partner for the U.S. and that the continuation of the transformation of Indo-U.S. relations is something that's important to us and that we expect to see," Mr. Boucher said at a regular briefing.
The spokesman maintained that he could not see any "problems" with New Delhi's decision.
"I would expect us to continue to work with India as a matter of strategic partnership. I am not predicting any particular problems but I would say that we would have hoped that they would be able to go do this in Iraq, for, I think, our interests and what we perceive their interests as well," he said.
Mr. Boucher did not want to explain whether his choice of words "we would have hoped they would have made a different decision" could be categorised as "disappointment" or "regret".
"I think that's where those very subtle State Department reporters who understand our language will have to explain that to you," the spokesman replied going on to say "I'm not going to try to play games with words here".
An AFP report quoted an unnamed senior State Department official as saying that the remark fell short of both terms. "It's a little less than disappointment, a little less than regret," the official said, stressing that Washington was being very careful with the language so as not to exacerbate any damage from India's refusal. But a second unnamed official was quoted in the same AFP report as saying, "I can't say we're particularly pleased with the decision. We think it was a mistake".
On the U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan's remark that several countries had expressed a willingness to participate in Iraq but only under a mandate from the U.N., Mr. Boucher said it remained to be seen if members in the Security Council had a desire to take a second look at Resolution 1483.
"We'll have to see what the discussion among council members is, whether there is some desire among council members to look at the language," he said adding that a "substantial" number of countries had found ways to participate and wished to participate and that Resolution 1483 "encourages" all countries to participate in "stabilisation".
Mr. Boucher also believed that India's decision did not send a "bad signal" to other nations that may be considering participating in Iraq. "I don't know that any other country is waiting on India's decision to make their own decision. Many countries have already made their decisions in order to move forward and help stabilise Iraq. The U.N. Security Council has encouraged countries to do that, and many countries are responding," he said.
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