M A I N   N E W S

PM for expanding Security Council
Group of 4 presses for permanent seats
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New York, September 22
After the famous and sometimes notorious P-5, it is now the turn of the G-4.
In a bid to challenge the might of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, India along with Japan, Germany and Brazil, better known as the Group of Four (G-4), had their first meeting yesterday to make a collective bid for representation in an expanded Security Council.

The meeting, initiated by Japanese Prime Minister Juicier Koizumi, was held on the margins of the ongoing UN General Assembly session.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who participated in the discussions after his breakfast meeting with George Bush and a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, made a strong pitch for their inclusion in the Security Council to make it more representative.

While Germany has been pushing for such a ginger group, the Japanese PM discussed the move on his recent visit to Brazil. Subsequently, India was invited to join the group. An invitation that was readily accepted.

A joint statement issued later by the four countries pointed out that they were legitimate candidates for permanent membership in an expanded Security Council and they all agreed to support each other’s candidature. The G-4 leaders also agreed that their Foreign Ministers would meet henceforth and coordinate their follow-up plans in pursuit of their objective.

The first such meeting is slated to be held within the next few days, India’s Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told presspersons after the meeting. He did not name any specific countries who are opposing the claims of these countries.

Mr Saran acknowledged the challenges ahead and said this is among the tasks, which will be taken up by the Foreign Ministers. China, a key player in the Security Council, is stated to be ambivalent on India and Japan’s entry into this exclusive club. Pakistan, too, has reservations on India.

While emphasising the urgent need for reforming the UN, Dr Singh, in his remarks, explained that the aim of this group of four was not to form another exclusive group but to reform what is presently perceived to be an exclusive club. The four aspirant countries, he felt, ought to be included in the Security Council given the contributions they have made to the UN system in the past and the fact that they have the capability to do so in the future.

Dr Singh made the same plea in his earlier meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In this instance, India’s claim for inclusion in the Security Council was cloaked in the plea for reforming the UN. He also rejected a suggestion by the high-level group, set up by the UN Secretary-General, that semi-permanent status be granted to some countries in an expanded Security Council.

Although it is crucial for India to have America’s support in getting a permanent seat on the Security Council, this issue did not find mention in Dr Singh’s conversation with US President George Bush. On the other hand. The Prime Minister did seek his British counterpart Tony Blair’s backing for their claim when they met in London two days ago. Mr Blair publicly acknowledged India’s candidature for the Security Council.

The debate on UN reforms has gained momentum as there has been world-wide dissatisfaction over the about the situation in Iraq and the fact that the UN was rendered ineffective in the face of America’s unilateral action.


PM woos American investors
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New York, September 22
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took the floor at the New York Stock Exchange to push for greater American investments in India. Effective international business planning necessitates an India strategy. There is an India story which must be a part of every company ‘s story, Dr. Singh told the movers and shakers of corporate America at what he described as the premier capital market of the world.

Dr Singh made a special pitch for increased American investment in the infrastructure area which, he admitted, is a problem area with several sectors requiring urgent upgradation. India needs a 150-billion-dollar investment for this purpose and domestic resources are clearly not enough. The Prime Minister was equally quick to emphasise that despite the raging domestic debate on FDI, there is maximum political consensus on investment in the infrastructure sector.

Dr Singh made the trip to the New York Stock Exchange, despite his heavy schedule with foreign policy initiatives, to invite American industry to invest in India but also to dispel any doubts about the future of economic reforms in India. This has become necessary in view of the perceived stance of the Left parties on foreign investments. Givent that his government is embroiled in controversy over raising FDI caps in areas like insurance and telecom, Dr Singh went out of his way to convince his international audience that the National Common Minimum Programme is indeed an investor friendly document.

For all those who are put off by India’s bureaucratic hurdles, Dr. Singh assured them that he himself heads a committee on infrastructure to eliminate policy bottlenecks.

The Prime Minister, whose reputation as the architect of India’s economic reforms precedes him, used his known persona to tell the world’s largest bourse that there were great possibilities for American skills and capital, particularly in infrastructure.

In his hard sell speech, Singh described present-day India as a good story as he listed out all the advantages of investing in India.

He assured the captains of American industry about the stability of Indian economy which has been growing apace over the years, pointing to the high growth rate, high profitability and a growing demand.

In addition, India, he said, has a large pool of English speaking professionals, an excellent R&D base and, most important, low operational costs.


PM wishes Clinton speedy recovery
Tribune News Service

New York, September 22
In addition to his other engagements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also went out of his way to call up former US President Bill Clinton who is recuperating from a heart surgery.

During his 15-minute conversation, Dr. Singh wished him speedy recovery and expressed disappointment that he could not go ahead with his scheduled visit to India because of his operation. Clinton, on his part, said he looked forward to visiting India soon and disclosed that he now wished to work for the marginalised and underprivileged sections.

This provided the right opening for Dr Singh to explain the new thrust of the UPA government's economic policies. Economic reforms, Dr Singh maintained, were on track, but the effort now is to make them more equitable and inclusive.

With America headed for a crucial do-or-die Presidential election, Dr Singh’s special telephone call was to keep open the lines of communication with the Democrats.

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