Tuesday, April 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

UK backs India for UN seat
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, April 17 — The UK today came out in support of India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council saying that “India is a natural contender for the seat”.

Addressing a joint press conference along with the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, said “Britain sees India as a natural contender for permanent membership of the Security Council.”

Coming heavily on Pakistan, Mr Cook said: “The continuing absence of a real road map to democratic rule will be a matter of deep disappointment to those of us who meet in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in two weeks time”. The CMAG is scheduled to meet on May 2 and 3.

“We discussed our mutual wish to see the people of Pakistan have the right democracy and civilian government restored to them as soon as possible”, Mr Cook said briefing newspersons about his one-hour-long talks with Mr Jaswant Singh.

Asking India and Pakistan to follow the path of restraint and dialogue, the British Foreign Secretary said: “I am pained by the deepening violence in Kashmir. As always it is the innocent civilians who suffer the most. Everyone must grasp that violence only makes problem worse; it does not make a solution easier”.

Taking the US line, Mr Cook said: “As President Clinton said, the modern world does not permit boundaries to be redrawn in blood. The only way forward is through dialogue and through creating positive political conditions in Kashmir. But serious dialogue requires real restraint. Both are essential to make progress”.

Calling upon New Delhi to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the visiting Foreign Secretary announced that India and the UK had agreed to undertake a regular bilateral dialogue on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The officials of the two countries will meet soon, Mr Cook said.

The two Ministers shared concern over terrorism in the world and decided to work together to counter this menace. They also expressed concern over Afghanistan continuing to be a centre of terrorism and drug trafficking.

Asked about the extradition of one of the militants freed in exchange of the hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft at Kandahar, Mr Jaswant Singh said the issue would be addressed through diplomatic channels and New Delhi had not made a request for extraditing the said militant.

Mr Cook said the judicial process would take its own course after a formal request was made by India.

The External Affairs Minister described his meeting with Mr Cook as productive and fruitful. The two sides decided to increase the two-way trade to 5 billion in the next couple of years. Some concrete steps are being taken in this regard, he said.

Mr Jaswant Singh said the two countries agreed to work together to reverse the “negative phenomenon” in the South Asian region.

India has renewed its invitation to the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, to visit the country. The dates of his visit are being worked out through diplomatic channels.

Mr Cook also called on the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.Back

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