New Delhi, Sept. 15: On the eve of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s departure to Turkey and New York for the United Nations General Assembly, South Block has made it clear that it is in favour of the UN, rather than the US, playing the dominant role in Iraq.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush — probably on September 23 — on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
The status of the peace process between India and Pakistan and other important bilateral issues between Delhi and Washington will be touched upon by the two leaders. Bush is also likely to find out from Vajpayee whether India is willing to commit troops for Iraq.
The US President had spoken to Vajpayee on the phone earlier this month and discussed developments in Iraq. The Permanent Five members of the UN Security Council have not been able to reach an agreement so far on the UN’s role in the war-ravaged country.
India had earlier said it would reconsider sending troops to Iraq only if an “explicit mandate” of the UN Security Council asked it to do so. This in effect meant that Delhi was willing to accept the US centrality in Iraq, but was looking for a fig leaf from the UN.
“There is a need to move forward from the UN Security Council resolution 1483,” foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said.
Without actually spelling out the need to “roll back” the resolution that accepted the centrality of US role in Iraq, Sibal said: “It is clear that 1483 has not been sufficient to deal with the situation.”