M A I N   N E W S

Manmohan Singh to press for reforms in UN
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will make his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 23 during which he would stress the need for international community to redouble its efforts to combat the menace of terrorism.

He would also be talking about the need for reforms in the UN and is expected to make a strong case for India’s inclusion in the UN Security Council which is proposed to be expanded.

The Prime Minister is leaving on September 19 for an eight-day visit to the United Kingdom and to New York. His one day visit to the UK will be followed by a week in New York where the Prime Minister would attend the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly.

In London, the Prime Minister would be having a working lunch with his British counterpart Tony Blair. There will also be a meeting with the selected high level CEOs of British companies and organisations, and a meeting with the Labour friends of India.

Secretary (East) Rajiv Sikri, who is the acting Foreign Secretary in the absence of Mr Shyam Saran, described India’s relations with United Kingdom as “substantive and multifaceted”. He pointed out that the people of Indian origin in the UK constituted one and a half per cent of the total population of UK.

In New York, the Prime Minister would interact with important US institutions and personalities and the Indian American community.

The 59th Session of the UN General Assembly will be taking place against the backdrop of heightened debate about the role and relevance of the UN. Besides, the UN’s effectiveness has been questioned in dealing with issues like the need for institutional reforms, the challenges faced by the UN in Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle-East, conflicts in Africa including the crisis in Sudan and the continuing concerns of global terrorism. These issues will come during the 59th session of UNGA.

Mr Sikri spelt out India’s priorities during the forthcoming UNGA session as follows: To pursue India’s initiatives and to safeguard its interests in the areas of UN reform, combating terrorism, nuclear disarmament, eradication of poverty, ensuring sustainable development, human rights and social development.

“We will make positive contributions to the consideration of the agenda items relating to the implementation of the outcome of major UN conferences and summits, and in particular on the measures for achieving the millennium development goals,” he said.

Though the Prime Minister’s New York visit will not be bilateral, he will be meeting President Bush on September 21 on the sidelines of the UNGA. Dr Manmohan Singh would affirm the strategic partnership between India and the United States “which is acquiring new dimensions,” Mr Sikri said.

“Our Ambassador to the United States (Mr Ronen Sen) had presented his credentials to President Bush a couple of days ago and President Bush told him that he attaches high priority to ties with India. India also attaches high priority to development of relations with the United States,” the official said.

The Prime Minister’s address to the UN General Assembly is on September 23. He will also be addressing the Indian American community.

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