The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt & Opposition split between ‘deplore’ & ‘condemn’

New Delhi, March 22: With the Centre refusing to “condemn” outright the US strike on Iraq and declining to directly appeal for an end to the war, the all-party meeting convened by Atal Bihari Vajpayee today failed to come out with a joint resolution.

The Opposition refused to adopt a three-line resolution proposed by the government as it did not contain the word “condemn”. The Centre, which went with terms like “deplore” and “anguish”, rejected the charge that it was hesitating to condemn the US action.

Prime Minister Vajpayee said there was no question of endorsing the war but “the language of diplomacy need not always be in the harshest language when one can convey the same meaning through restrained language”. This was Vajpayee’s second attempt at a consensus on the Iraq war. The first all-party meet on March 10 had also ended inconclusively.

Trying to look non-partisan, Vajpayee said “regime change in a country cannot be imposed from outside” and any action without UN mandate would undermine the credibility of the world body. He also reserved a rap for Iraq, saying it should destroy its weapons of mass destruction and comply fully with relevant UN resolutions.

Justifying the Indian stand, Vajpayee said the Security Council itself stood divided, with three permanent members ranged against two others, and non-permanent members voicing varying views. Besides, there were divisions in Europe and within the Nato as also in the Arab world, with many Arab countries co-operating with the US and Britain.

Vajpayee said he had written to heads of states of P5 countries even before war began to come to a consensus so that peace got a chance.

Giving details of his talks with George W. Bush on Thursday, Vajpayee said he had conveyed India’s concern to the US President. He also told Bush how several Nam leaders had expressed “anxiety that regime change in Iraq would set a dangerous example”.

Vajpayee said India had strong ties with the US, Britain and others involved in the Iraq war. “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Iraq situation, our relationship with others cannot be defined by a single issue, however important and whatever the differences in points of view.”

Cong silent on US

The Congress today issued a statement stressing the need to condemn the war against Iraq. The statement, released after a Congress Working Committee meeting, had no reference to the US.

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