M A I N   N E W S

Manmohan Singh, Blair vow to fight terror
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

London, September 20
British Prime Minister Tony Blair today condemned terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir as India and the United Kingdom resolved to fight the menace globally. “We totally and completely condemn any terrorism associated with Kashmir as we do with terrorism anywhere else in the world,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a joint Press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here after their half-an-hour talks.

Britain does not have double standards on terrorism for South Asia, Mr Blair said adding that terrorists have no interest in peaceful solutions to problems.

“We condemn totally and absolutely those people who kill innocents, murder elected people as this only seeks to divide the people,” he said.

Supporting New Delhi’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, the British Premier said “India is a country of 1.2 billion people. For India not to be represented on the Security Council is, I think, something that is not in tune with modern times in which we live.”

Standing by his side, Dr Singh sought “credible strategy” to meet the new challenges of terrorism which was threatening the civilised world. “We want to be part of the coalition to fight terrorism,” he said.

The two leaders signed a joint declaration pledging greater cooperation in fighting global terrorism and in the fields of science, technology and trade.

Indo-Pak relations also came up during the talks briefly and Dr Singh informed Mr Blair about the progress in the composite dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is our sincere desire to carry forward the (dialogue) process provided terrorism is brought under control. If this is done we are more than willing to discuss all issues with Pakistan,” he said in reply to a question.

Mr Blair said a solution of the Kashmir issue in possible through peaceful dialogue.

Dr Singh ruled out sending Indian troops to Iraq but said India can train the police, extend all possible cooperation for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-ravaged country and offer humanitarian aid

“At present we are not in a position to commit Indian troops” to Iraq, he said.

Dr Manmohan Singh said India was for stability, restoration of normalcy and peace in Iraq in the interest of the entire world community.

Earlier in wide-ranging talks with Mr Blair, Dr Manmohan Singh expressed a desire to forge closer ties with the United Kingdom, reiterated India’s determination to battle terrorism and clarified that India had no intentions of backtracking on economic reforms. Projecting India as a major player in world affairs, Dr Manmohan Singh also sought and got Britain’s support for for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Building on the goals of the 2002 New Delhi declaration, the two Prime Ministers sought to raise the level of their partnership by announcing a new joint initiative, called “The Prime Minister’s Initiative”. This declaration outlines strategies to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries through a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Identifying fields for joint action, the two countries envisaged a long-term partnership in areas ranging from defence, security, economic and trade issues to science and technology.

The agreement emphasises tightening security cooperation between the two countries and commits them to a joint battle against terrorism. The document, therefore, talks of combating terrorism in all its “forms and manifestations” with both stating they will work together to ensure that all countries uphold global norms against terrorism. This involves stronger links between their respective police and intelligence agencies. Countering money-laundering and terrorist-financing also finds mention in the document. India has consistently maintained that it is a victim of cross-border terrorism and that Pakistan territory houses an extensive terrorist infrastructure. India has also charged Britain with protecting Sikh and Kashmiri militants in the past.

Coming on the heels of the US move to ease export controls on equipment for India’s nuclear power plants and its civilian space programme, the declaration will expand cooperation in the fields of civilian activities, civilian space programmes and high technology trade. The two countries also plan to enhance their defence cooperation through joint military training.

Acceding to the British request for a larger economic component in the agreement, the declaration seeks to expand economic ties with the establishment of a Joint Economic and Trade Committee for the development of a strategic economic relationship. India’s emergence as a global power and the fact that bilateral trade has grown by over 20 per cent last year , has been acknowledged. Describing India and the UK as natural economic partners, the two will seek to enhance bilateral trade and investment in specific sectors including services and knowledge-based industries. 

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