Friday, November 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India not to let down Saddam: Sinha
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, November 28
Asserting that it will “not let down” Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Union Government today cautioned that any US-sponsored unilateral military action could spell disaster extending beyond the Gulf region, while asking Baghdad to fully comply with the UN inspection for weapons of mass destruction.

“President Saddam Hussein has been a friend of India. He should not feel let down when he is under pressure. We are keeping a close watch on the situation,” External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said while replying to a short-duration discussion on the situation in West Asia threatening world peace and security.

Spelling out New Delhi’s stand, Mr Sinha said any action against Iraq should be under the auspices of the United Nations and the issue should be resolved through peaceful means without resorting to use of military force.

If the UN inspectors found no weapons of mass destruction, then the sanctions imposed against Iraq since 1990 should be lifted, he said.

At this juncture, the Minister said: “Let us not allow emotions to overtake our stand and responsibility and let national interest and idealism, which have been the two pillars of our foreign policy, give expression to our position”.

Observing that New Delhi had “high stakes” in that region, he said India imported most of its crude oil from the Gulf and had a 3.5 million Indian diaspora there.

Earlier, Rajya Sabha Members today expressed concern over the grave security situation in West Asia and wanted the Centre to play a proactive role in defusing the crisis in the region.

Initiating the discussion on the situation arising in West Asia Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee demanded lifting of sanctions against Iraq if UN inspectors were satisfied with Baghdad’s compliance.

Welcoming Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s recent statement that every country had the right to choose its own head and no other country should force any government on it, Mr Mukherjee said all countries had equal rights under the UN Charter and no other country should decide what type of a government a country should have.

Some big countries, indeed, had special powers but interference in the affairs of any nation must be based on UN mandate, he added.

“Israel and Palestine can live in peace and we can play some proactive role if the situation permits us,” he said.

BJP member R.B.S. Verma said the UN Security Council was the appropriate forum where the Israel-Palestine problem could be solved.

He also said sanctions against Baghdad should be lifted if the UN inspectors were satisfied.

Mr S.M. Lal (TDP) echoed the Prime Minister’s statement and said nobody had the right to decide what kind of a government a country should have.

Mr Jibon Roy (CPM) demanded following the old path of non-alignment shown by Jawaharlal Nehru.”

Mr Motilal Vora (Congress) said the policy of Non-Alignment followed by India after independence had won support from all Third World countries and urged the government to again take on the mantle of mobilising world opinion against the US efforts at hegemony.

Likening US President George W Bush to Hitler, said just as Germany had quit the League of Nations after Hitler assumed power, the US President was threatening to leave the UN if it failed to fall in line with its plans.

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