M A I N   N E W S

No poll officials for Iraq, Left tells govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
At the breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, Left parties voiced their opposition to the US request of seeking officials from the Election Commission to monitor elections in Iraq.

After an hour-long meeting, CPI leader A.B. Bardhan and RSP leader Abani Roy told reporters: “We are all agreed that there is no question of sending anyone from here to Iraq. But if Iraqis can come here to get trained, we don’t have any problems because it is a UN request.”

US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, during her recent visit, made the request when she met the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister.

Analysts said Washington’s move was to give greater international credibility to the elections in Iraq with the involvement of India, world’s largest democracy, and it could also tactically shift focus from the US and the UK, which are facing ire of Iraqis in the post-Saddam era.

Left leader told the Prime Minister that it was another attempt by the US to co-opt India to the Iraqi tangle as part of its bid for a larger global acceptability to the controversial invasion, toppling of Saddam Hussain and the installation of a “puppet regime” in Baghdad.

They asked the UPA Government not to send any observers for the impending elections in Iraq but India should be ready to provide training to Iraqi officials if they come here.

This was conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by leaders of the CPI, CPI(M), RSP and the Forward Bloc at a breakfast meeting here.

They said National Security Advisor J N Dixit briefed them on several foreign policy issues, including recent talks with leadership of Myanmar and Iran and developments in Israel and Afghanistan, in the presence of the Prime Minister.

The four Left parties had yesterday demanded a review of the Indo-Israel strategic ties in view of the increasing attacks on the Palestinian people and the release of pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi from house arrest in Myanmar.

The parties had also expressed “serious concern” on the disinvestment moves and sought clarification whether any commitment had been made towards India joining the US-sponsored ballistic missile defence programme.

The CPI leader said they had asked the Prime Minister to hold the UPA-Left Co-ordination Panel meeting sometime in the first week of next month or as convenient to him.

The meeting was also attended by CPI(M) General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet and CPI leader D. Raja.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India is holding its day-long national executive meet tomorrow followed by two-day national council, which would finalise the agenda for party’s 19th Congress to be held in Chandigarh from March 29 to April 3.

During the three-day long meeting, the party will review the performance of Manmohan Singh government, functioning of the UPA-Left Co-ordination Committee, FDI cap in telecom and insurance sectors, disinvestment of PSUs among other issues.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will meet tomorrow to finalise the agenda for the three-day central committee meet.

The three-day meet which would end on October 31 would discuss the current political situation, implementation of the CMP and the party’s stand on various issues.

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