Wednesday, March 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Unfair, say world leaders

Washington, March 18
US President George W Bush’s 48-hour deadline for President Saddam Hussein to quit Iraq or face war drew sharp reactions from the international community with most of the world leaders deploring the decision saying there was no justification for a unilateral attack on Baghadad.

Three veto-wielding powers, Russia, France and China along with the Arab League, expressed fierce opposition to a US-led war, saying conflict was against international law.

However, staunch US allies including Japan and Australia, favoured the American decision on attacking Baghdad without UN sanction.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said “my question remains: does the level of threat posed by Iraqi dictator justify war which will result in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children?”

The Arab League accused the USA of acting “outside international legality” and said it could not accept “such a final warning”.

“We regret the US decision to act outside the UN Security Council and international legality,” spokesman of Cairo-based pan-Arab organisation Hisham Yussef said.

But Australian Premier John Howard announced that his government would commit 2000 troops to the US-led attack while Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said “it was a decision that had to be made.”

French President Jacques Chirac, in a statement in Paris, said: “This unilateral decision is contrary to the wishes of the Security Council and international community which wants to pursue disarmament.

“Only the Security Council can legitimise the use of force,” Mr Chirac said, warning that to forego “the legitimacy of the UN to privilege force over law is to take a heavy responsibility.

Russia said it believed there was no ground for saying that a political-diplomatic solution to the situation in Iraq had no chances and that time for diplomacy was over.

“It is clear from UN arms inspector Hans Blix’s report that much has been done in this area and it is important to confirm the key role of the UN in resolving the Iraq problem,” a Russian Foreign Office statement said.


PM rejects Bush’s ultimatum
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
India today virtually rejected the ultimatum given to the Iraqi leadership to go on exile or face war by US President George Bush by stating that “peace will prevail.”

“We still hope peace will reign supreme and the menace of violence will be burnt away,” Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said at a function to present the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan here.

“When we are talking about the Gandhi Peace Prize, elsewhere in the world ultimatums are being given and people are being thrown out,” Mr Vajpayee said.

Mr Vajpayee in his statement in Parliament opposed any move to change a country’s regime by outside force. “The Government of India would strongly urge that no military action be taken which does not have the collective concurrence of the international community,” he stated.

Greeting the people on the occasion of Holi, Mr Vajpayee referred to the controversy over the date for Holi celebrations and said there could be a difference on the date but there cannot be any differences on the festival itself.

The Prime Minister also lauded the yeoman services of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in the field of education and social activities. The award of Rs 1 crore in cash, a citation and a plaque was presented by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to former President R. Venkataraman, who is the President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Worldwide) at a brief function in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Established in 1938 by K.M. Munshi with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi, this year’s Gandhi Peace Prize is awarded to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for its significant contribution towards the spread of education, integration of the best of ancient and modern values and promotion of peace and harmony among all faiths and communities.

Speaking on the occasion, Tourism and Culture Minister Jagmohan said the Bhavan, through its numerous institutions, publications and other activities, had not only made a lasting contribution in elevating the mindscape of India, but also propagated the Gandhian message of love, peace, tolerance and universal brotherhood all over the world.

The function was attended by Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Union Council of Ministers and others.

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