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Natwar Singh meets Kasuri in New York
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, who has stayed on in New York because of back-to-back meetings and other business, met his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri yesterday and is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice later today.

Both the Indian and the Pakistani sides remained tightlipped about the two Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York. The Natwar-Kasuri meeting assumes significance in view of Ms Rice’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York last week when she reportedly urged him to give some concessions to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to make his own position more tenable domestically.

Mr Natwar Singh, who goes from the US to Canada on a bilateral visit and returns here on September 29, is scheduled to visit Pakistan for formal talks with Mr Kasuri on October 3 and 4.

Mr Natwar Singh also had a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday in New York wherein Mr Annan reiterated the need to implement reforms of the UN, including Security Council reform by December. In this context the External Affairs Minister briefed him on the meeting of the G-4 Foreign Ministers and the decision of the G-4 to remain united and keep the issue of Security Council reform very much on the agenda.

His meeting with Ms Rice later today, which was not scheduled till last week, is considered to be of crucial importance in view of the American concerns with regard to Iranian nuclear programme and the Indian stand on the subject. India, Russia and China, which have major business interests with Iran, back Iran’s claim to peaceful nuclear technology under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and oppose approving referral to the Security Council at this week’s meeting in Vienna of the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors.

In this context, US Assistant Secretary of State Nicholas Burns met Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran in New York today and probed his mind on the Indian stand. Mr Burns met British, German and French officials yesterday in New York to discuss ways to bring around enough members of the IAEA board to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions. The US has long advocated such a strategy but still does not have the support of India, Russia or China, or a “next steps” policy if the matter does end up in the Security Council.

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