June 2002 News

India objects to UN seminar on Kashmir; mobilises boycott

20 June 2002
The Hindustan Times

Washington DC: India has taken strong exception to a Mexican bid to organise a seminar on Kashmir, albeit on an informal basis, for the benefit of members of the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday. Indian diplomats have gone into hectic lobbying with the council members, urging them to boycott the event. Two of the members, Russia and Mauritius, have reportedly indicated that they would stay away. Indian sources expected more countries to follow suit. An official of India''s permanent mission, when contacted, said India has let it be known that the meeting will serve no purpose. ''We have said that we don''t like this meeting. It is unhelpful and counter-productive,'' he said. The Mexican bid has surprised observers since the council members, at the height of the Indo-Pak standoff earlier this month, had informally agreed to leave the issue for bilateral resolution. Mexico is one of the 10 non-permanent members in the 15-member Security Council. India is also irked by the choice of outside speakers who have been invited to the seminar. The invitees include Nicholas Platt, president of the Asia Society, New York, Farooq Kathwari, a Kashmiri US businessman, and New York Times'' UN correspondent Barbara Crossette. The seminar is apparently being organised under the ''Arria formula'', an informal arrangement that allows Security Council members to be briefed about various international peace and security issues. Blair defends arms sale Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday there was nothing inappropriate about Britain selling weapons to India and Pakistan during the current standoff. Blair said suggestions that British arms were fuelling the conflict were ''absolutely bizarre.'' During a news conference, Blair said the crisis could only be solved through negotiation. The government has been criticised for continuing to issue arms export licenses to India and Pakistan at the height of the two countries'' tense standoff last month. AP, London


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