September 2004 News

Blair condemns terrorism in Kashmir

20 September 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

London: Britain today strongly backed India’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded security council and unequivocally condemned terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir as the two countries signed a joint declaration for a comprehensive strategic partnership. The declaration signed by Singh and his British counterpart Tony Blair after their 45-minute parleys at 10, Downing Street also pledged to work together to ensure that the global norms against terrorism are upheld by all countries. 'We totally and completely condemn any terrorism associated with Kashmir,' Blair said at a joint press conference with Singh who had a tight schedule during the day before he left for New York to attend the UN General Assembly. 'We condemn totally and absolutely those people who kill innocents, murder elected politicans as this only seeks to divide the people,' he said. He said Britain supported Indo-Pak dialogue process through peaceful means. Noting that India was a country of 1.2 billion people, Blair said 'India not to be represented on the Security Council is something that is not in tune with the modern times'. He also favoured involvement of India and China in G-8 process. Singh sought 'credible strategy' to meet the new challenges of terrorism which was threatening the civilised world. 'We want to be part of the coalition to fight terrorism,' he said. Indo-Pak relations also came up for discussions briefly and Singh informed Blair about the progress in the composite dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir. 'It is our sincere desire to carry forward the (dialogue) process provided terrorism is brought under control. If this is done we are more than willing to discuss all issues with Pakistan,' he said in reply to a question. Singh is meeting Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Friday in New York. In the joint declaration, the two leaders affirmed their commitment to work towards promoting international peace, stability and security, the two sides shared the view that a strengthened multilateral system, including a reformed UN security council that would reflect the changing aspirations of the 21st century was an important element of this process. Under the strategic partnership covering 15 points, the two countries, among other things, decided to explore the co- production of defence equipment, work towards the objective of non- proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery. The declaration said the two countries were deeply committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. 'We will work together to try to ensure that the global norms against terrorism are upheld by all countries.' On the economic front, the two countries decided to set up a ministerially- led joint economic and trade committee to further develop a strategic economic relationship and business-led vehicles to enhance bilateral trade and investment in specific sectors, including services and knowledge-based industries. They also agreed to establish an Indo- British economic and financial dialogue on bilateral and global issues, on financial systems, and to enhance economic and financial cooperation. The two countries will enhance their dialogue on international trade and investment issues. 'Our economic ties will continue to expand. We will establish a ministerially-led joint economic and trade committee to further develop a strategic economic relationship, and develop business-led vehicles to enhance bilateral trade and investment in specific sectors including services and knowledge-based industries,' the declaration said. Earlier, addressing 23 top Chief Executives of Britain at a breakfast meeting here, Singh declared that India is working on a 'new model' to integrate itself with the increasingly interdependent global economy and said the country welcomed foreign investments. 'India is working on a new model in the increasingly interdependent global economy....India today is more open and welcomes foreign investments.' 'We do not accept privatisation as an ideology. We do not take ideological view of privatisation but take a pragmatic view and, wherever it serves national purpose, we will pursue privatisation' he said. Earlier, Mr Singh declared that the key concern of his Government was to normalise relations with Pakistan through a 'very serious and sincere' dialogue. In an interview to the ‘The Times’ of London, he expressed his Government’s determination to end the menace of terrorism and make the universe a better place for living. India is ready to cooperate with any country, bilaterally or regionally, to combat terrorism,’’ he said. New Delhi was ready to do more on sharing intelligence on terrorism networks and step up its campaign against drug trafficking, Dr Singh said in what was claimed to be the first interview given by him after becoming the Prime Minister in May. In an obvious reference to terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said India had been a victim of terrorism for the last 15 years. He would now push for an international convention on terrorism. On his upcoming meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly, he said India was very serious and sincere in wanting all disputes between the two countries resolved through bilateral dialogue. He said he was determined that India should forge closer links with Britain, be more active in the fight against terrorism and stake a claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. 'that’s my vision, that’s my commitment — to steer the country in the direction in which India is taken seriously.' He said India had a strong claim 'to a UN seat, given our size, given our potential, given our capacity.' Dr Singh rejected any suggestion that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the real power in the UPA Government and asserted that his ministry would complete its full five-year term. He said he had no doubt that his Government was there to stay. 'It will complete five years. That is the mandate,' he said. He said India would get rid of poverty, ignorance and diseases. 'I want a rapidly expanding economy, a caring and inclusive society where people are equal citizens regardless of their religion, caste and creed.' The Prime Minister also ruled out sending Indian troops to Iraq and said offers of help for the war-torn country must await better security. Sounding 'sceptical' about an Indian role in peace-making, Dr Singh, said, 'we have to recognise the realities of power and that international relations are essentially a reflection of power relations. India’s role tends to be rather limited.' Dr Singh said he would like to know US President George Bush’s assessment of the situation in Iraq, when they hold a breakfast meeting in New York tomorrow. He also underlined India’s backing for the UN to run Iraq until a new Government could be installed in the embattled nation. Stating that India had no intention of slipping back into protectionist isolation, Dr Singh cautioned the United States and other western nations against curbing outsourcing of jobs to India. 'Any attempt in the west, especially in America, would fly in the face of globalisation and could cost thousands of companies their competitive edge,' he said. Dr Singh made it clear that he wanted to lead a more dynamic, assertive India that would not be afraid to grasp the nettles of globalisation, international responsibilities and competition with China. He said he was looking to the huge Indian diaspora in Britain and the US to bolster India’s economic changes and promote a more vibrant image of the country. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's diplomatic engagement in New York includes his talks with US President George W Bush and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf besides addressing the UN General Assembly. Singh will be holding a breakfast meeting tomorrow with Bush during which the two leaders are expected to chart out a road map for further consolidating Indo-US strategic partnerships, including high technology transfers, and discuss the need for the world community to unitedly fight terrorism. They are expected to exchange views on the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, west Asia, global war on terrorism, UN reforms and a host of other regional and international issues. A positive tone for the meeting was set with the US agreeing to ease export restrictions including removal of ISRO from the prohibitive list and moving ahead on the ‘Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP)’. Closely watched would be Singh’s meeting with Musharraf on Friday ahead of which the former said that progress in the dialogue process covering all aspects can be made if terrorism was firmly brought under control. 'I will convey to him (Musharraf) that our country is sincere in carrying forward dialogue. Both sides recognise that we are dealing with complicated issues. It will take time. So we should be patient,' Singh told reporters accompanying him on his trip to UK and US yesterday. New Delhi is concerned at Pakistan’s failure to dismantle terrorist infrastructure despite promises made by Musharraf that he would not allow its territory to be used for terrorist activity against India. This issue could come up during Singh’s discussions with the world leaders as he presses for sustained and united fight against the scourge. Singh said that Bush’s meeting with him in the midst of hectic pre-election campaign for the US Presidential polls indicated the importance Washington attaches to strengthening relations with India. A joint statement will be issued after the parleys, he said observing that both sides were committed to further consolidating bilateral relations. Noting that in the last five years, a lot of restrictions had been placed by the US on India in high technology areas, the Prime Minister hoped there would be considerable relaxation in this. He was also hopeful of the first phase in the NSSP would be concretised. Singh will also hold meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the margins of the UN meet. The Prime Minister said in his address to the UNGA and meetings with world leaders, he would convey to them that it was 'absolutely essential' for reforms of the UN system, particularly the Security Council. He would push forward India’s 'strong' claim for permanent membership of an enlarged Security Council, emphasising that the voice of one billion people must be recognised. 'We are a power to reckon with. A new India is emerging. India is on the move'. (Agencies)


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