Tuesday, June 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

World leaders support India on terrorism
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Lausanne (Switzerland), June 2
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said today that there was widespread recognition among the USA and other major powers that Pakistan should stop cross-border terrorism against India for any meaningful progress in taking New Delhi’s fresh initiative forward.

“The P-5 and the international community are one that Islamabad should end encouraging terrorism in all its forms”, Mr Vajpayee stated at a press conference here at the conclusion of his three-nation European tour.

The Prime Minister, however, was highly guarded about commenting whether the US President, Mr George W. Bush, will exercise intense pressure on Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf to stop cross-border terrorism when the latter visits Camp David on June 14. “Let us wait and see what happens...” at the Bush-Musharraf meeting.

Mr Vajpayee was categoric in telling the world’s most powerful leaders and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that “ending cross-border terrorism and dismantling the infrastructure is necessary for meaningful, real and substantive talks with Pakistan to reduce tension in South Asia”. It was Mr Bush who specifically asked Mr Vajpayee in St Petersburg if talks with Pakistan had begun. Mr Bush was informed that preliminary discussions were under way.

He said China also appreciated India’s initiative with regard to Pakistan and described his first contact with President Hu Jintao as ‘very good’. During his talks with Mr Hu, the two leaders also touched upon the vexed border issue and underlined the need for greater understanding on issues of mutual concern. China affirmed that the authority of the United Nations should not be eroded or compromised as the world body had an important role to play in ensuring stability, security and development.

He dismissed suggestions that India’s emergence on the world stage is because of its status as a nuclear weapons state. There are apprehensions of the situation going out of hand in South Asia because both India and Pakistan enjoy nuclear capability. India’s stature and importance has grown in the comity of nations because of its stability and multi-faceted capabilities.

Mr Vajpayee acknowledged that India had received requests for sending its troops to Iraq in the post-Saddam Hussein scenario but “we have sought crucial clarifications on several key questions” whether the forces will be deployed for maintaining law and order or involved in a fresh show of strength.

“The road map for Indian troops being sent to Iraq must be clear as well as under whose command will they work.”

These are niggling questions which needs to be ascertained in clear terms before the BJP-led NDA government takes a decision in this regard. Further, he said just like in the USA, India also had a law that troops dispatched for peace-keeping missions must remain under its own command.

He emphasised that India had always pursued an independent foreign policy and there was no question of tilting towards the USA or any other country. In today’s global environment it had become imperative to take steps for a multi-polar world.

Mr Vajpayee said there was broad understanding in the world’s most powerful grouping of G-8 and other fora of the necessity to tackle international terrorism through concerted action. A broad understanding had been reached in this regard and some countries had focussed attention on it.

At the extended G-8 summit involving developing countries for the first time, Mr Vajpayee said while the Russian President, Mr Vladimir Putin, underlined the need to promote and strengthen democracies for dealing with corruption, Mr Bush sought proper audit of how the financial flows from the industrialised North are being spent. As auditing procedures remain non-existent in most countries, he said a framework must be evolved so that the resources made available to developing and least developed countries were channelised properly and utilised for the purposes for which they were meant.

“We in India have a stringent audit system and face difficulties with the objections raised by the Comptroller and Auditor-General ”, he said amid laughter. “At the same time corruption is a global problem and development cannot be undertaken without accountability”, Mr Vajpayee observed.

About the threats being held out against Iran by the USA and some other powers, the Prime Minister said the matter came up during his discussions with the leaders of the P-5. The overbearing view was that there should be no military action against Iran. Major powers concerned about developments in Iran have discounted taking recourse to a regime change in that country as evidenced in Iraq.

Overall, Mr Vajpayee said this was the first time that he had had direct contacts and substantive discussions with all leaders of the Security Council in a span of 24 hours. It had also provided a window on global politics. “It shows how the world has shrunk which is a pointer to India enjoying its own place on the global stage. The unilateral decision of taking military action against Iran had created serious cracks among the major powers and the leaders have now realised that they all have to work together”.

At the end of his trip to Germany, St Petersburg and Evian for the G-8 summit in France, Mr Vajpayee commended the initiative taken by the French President, Mr Jacques Chirac, and involving developing countries in efforts to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots.

“I will return to India tomorrow with the satisfaction that we have made further progress in our efforts to build closer relations with our many partners in the world. Regular exchanges of views and perspectives with them ensures better understanding on bilateral, regional and international issues”, Mr Vajpayee added in a prepared statement.



Mr Bush does not drink
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Lausanne, June 2
The conclave of the world’s most powerful leaders is not without its concomitant delicate moments. Serious differences of opinion manifests itself in different forms. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee provided some insight into delicate moments faced by leaders when they don’t see an eye to eye on issues where the powerful assign to themselves the role of a super cop, disregarding world bodies like the United Nations.

Mr Vajpayee recalled how at a dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Saturday while ringing down the curtain on the 300th anniversary celebrations of the historic city, the serious divide between the USA and Germany came to the fore.

No sooner than the dinner had ended, Mr Putin got up to thank and bid adieu to the assembled guests. U S President George Bush also got up simultaneously but when he saw German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder rise from his chair, the American leader quickly resumed his seat. It was evident that Mr Bush had not taken kindly to Germany’s and Mr Schroeder’s stout opposition to the US-led military action in Iraq sending Saddam Hussein packing. Mr Bush left after Mr Schroeder had made his exit.


At the extended G-8 conclave, Mr Vajpayee found to his surprise that Mr Bush does not drink alcohol. “How many of us know that Mr Bush does not drink and toasts with a glass of water,” Mr Vajpayee asked. He learnt that Mr Bush had given up alcoholic drinks 16 years ago and only drank water. “Toast sehat ka jam hota hai (It is cheers for one’s health) and Mr Bush toasted with water for India’s health and prosperity.”

When a correspondent asked light heartedly what did Mr Vajpayee toast with, the Prime Minister deftly skirted the question saying “is it necessary to disclose such details.?..”


Mr Vajpayee had no doubt that French President Jacques Chirac’s endeavour to involve the developing countries and the Asian economic tigers in global decision-making will lead to a new organisation emerging as the G-8 was losing its sheen and importance. He expressed happiness that the leaders favouring the military action in Iraq and those against it had realised that it was better for them to work together.


Considering the worldwide scare that the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) had created, Mr Bush found it bewildering that India had not been affected. He asked Mr Vajpayee about the impact of SARS in India. The Prime Minister told him that there was not one case of SARS in India because of the effective and prompt preventive measures. Mr Bush appeared unconvinced as SARS had spread in Hong Kong, China and Singapore in India’s vicinity.

At the same time what he found highly satisfying was the fact that global leaders were for the first time putting their heads together in dealing with medical issues like the scourge of AIDS.


Mr Vajpayee’s quick wit and repartee was plentiful was evident at the press conference in Lausanne this afternoon. When a mediaperson sought his opinion how is it that the U S Dollar weakened and the Rupee gained in strength whenever he was on a foreign tour, Mr Vajpayee felt it might be good idea to travel abroad more frequently.


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