The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nudge for Iraq road map
- Atal seeks clarifications from America on troops

New Delhi, June 22: India wants a “time frame” and a “road map” for the interim government in Iraq before the government finalises its decision on sending troops to Iraq. The Vajpayee government is believed to have sought clarifications on these from the US, which wants India to send the troops to Iraq.

At the same time, India has begun consultations with Iraq’s neighbours to find out how Iran, Syria or Turkey would react to Indian troops being deployed in Iraq to work under the Anglo-American command. “Whatever we decide will be in our national interest and in the interest of the Iraqi people,” sources in the external affairs ministry said today. “We have sought clarifications from the US on the time frame and the road map for an Iraqi government,” they added.

It was indicated that despite New Delhi moving closer to the American position, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee was against taking a decision on the issue in a hurry. He would discuss it with partners of the NDA government on his return from China.

The sources suggested that India had pointed out to the US the difference in the Iraq situation from a similar one in Afghanistan about deployment of troops from different countries.

In Afghanistan, the decision to send foreign troops was made easier by President Hamid Karzai’s request to the international community to that effect. That not only gave some legitimacy to the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan but made it look less like a submission to American pressure.

Asked if a decision to send troops to Iraq would not run counter to Parliament’s resolution against the war in Iraq, the sources said the UN resolution 1483 had accepted the British-American force in Iraq as the “authority” that would run Iraq until an interim government of the Iraqis themselves could take over administration there.

Obviously, India is now seeking to find legitimacy for any decision to send the troops in the UN resolution.

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