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Pakistan must remove shadow of terror for talks, says Modi at UN
Wants global fight against terror Pushes for UN reforms
Calls for International Yoga Day
Raj Chengappa In New York

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood on the podium to deliver his maiden address to the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, he was aware that his ability to lead India and straddle the world stage would be judged by what he said.

A nation's destiny is linked to its neighbourhood. I am prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere, without the shadow of terrorism, to promote our friendship and cooperation... Pakistan must also take its responsibility seriously to create an appropriate environment.
Narendra Modi, PM

He had two choices stick to a staid enunciation of India's position on key global issues or make a bold statement that would spell out his worldview and signal to the globe that he had arrived and was keen on making a difference. True to form, the Prime Minister chose the latter.

Speaking in Hindi, and at times extempore, Modi launched into a remarkably candid exposition of the key issues confronting the world and what India and the other nations should do about them. At one stage, he mocked the various groupings like G-4 and G-20 and said: "We need to be able to work together as G-all."

Modi also didn't shy away from the challenge thrown by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who had raked up the Kashmir dispute when he spoke yesterday. While Modi took him on early in his speech, the Indian Prime Minister sounded balanced and reasonable in comparison to the shrill tone adopted by Sharif. Modi spoke for the need to resolve all issues with Pakistan through a serious bilateral dialogue without the "shadow of terror."

Rather than raise the Kashmir issue in the UN forum, Modi emphasised the need for Pakistan to create "an appropriate environment" indicating he was willing to resume talks if that happened. He twitted Sharif for not mentioning the floods that devastated both sides of the divide in Kashmir, stating that cooperation during such times of crisis was essential.

Modi indirectly pushed India's case for a seat in the UN high table by calling for the urgent expansion of the Security Council. He derided nations for indulging in a zero-sum game and preventing genuine reforms in the UN.

Nor did the Prime Minister avoid expressing strong views on the emergence of the brutal extremist groups in the Middle East. He called for global cooperation for fighting terror, thereby indirectly supporting US President Barack Obama's military intervention in the region. He reiterated the need to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that India had pushed for way back in 1996.

The current session had been convened mainly to set post 2015 development priorities for the world that would determine the nature of international cooperation and the allocation of resources to needy countries. Modi urged nations to cooperate in formulating a bold plan on the 70th anniversary of the UN, which falls next year, that included harnessing technology to rid the world of grinding poverty and provide basic necessities to the people. On climate change, he reiterated India's position of nation's adopting common but differentiated responsibilities and emphasised that developed countries must fulfil their commitments for funding technology and transfer.

Modi also requested the UN to declare an International Yoga Day, so people the world over could learn and benefit from ancient India's holistic approach to health and well-being.

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