June 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India
PM for consensus on sending troops to Iraq
New Delhi, June 15
The announcement was made after a 70-minute-long meeting between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi.
External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha told mediapersons here today that whatever decision would be taken would be in best national interest. “The Congress has raised several questions and the government will hold consultation with political parties and keep national interests in mind before arriving at a final decision,” Mr Sinha said.
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and senior Congress leaders Natwar Singh and Manmohan Singh were present at the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s residence. The meeting was convened a day before the scheduled arrival of a team from Pentagon to convince New Delhi to send troops to Iraq.
Sources said the government was inclined to holding an all-party meeting to evolve a consensus on the issue. In a letter to the Prime Minister on June 4, Ms Sonia Gandhi had voiced her party’s opposition to the deployment of Indian troops in Iraq under any arrangement other than the UN command.
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