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Annan visit with Iraq on agenda

New Delhi, Oct. 4 : United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit India next week to hold talks with the Indian leadership focusing on stability in Iraq and global terrorism.

Regional developments, particularly Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s initiative to normalise relations with Pakistan, are also likely to come up for discussion during his visit.

The secretary general is likely to get Delhi’s view on the scenario in Sri Lanka and the likely outcome of the talks between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam.

Annan visit comes in the backdrop of the US moving a fresh draft resolution at the Security Council to garner support for its effort at the stabilisation of Iraq.

However, reports indicate that the US is still finding it difficult to get support for its effort from members of the council. Most of the council members still have reservations on the draft resolution as they feel that political stability and peace in the war-ravaged country can only return if the UN plays the central role.

India has so far adopted a wait-and-watch stand on the new draft circulated by the US.

Terrorism is another issue that the secretary general is likely to focus on during his talks with Indian leaders. The discussions gather special significance in view of the comprehensive convention to combat terrorism that India plans to hold at the UN. Besides, Annan will fly from here to Malaysia to attend the Organisation of Islamic Conference summit, where the issue is also likely to be discussed.

The continued violence in West Asia and the Palestine struggle has often led the Arab world to draw a distinction between freedom fighters and terrorism, which has so far hindered the international community in coming to a consensus on the definition of a terrorist.

India, which is vocal in its support for the Palestine cause, makes it clear that the situation in West Asia cannot be compared to that in Kashmir.

“The Israelis have occupied Palestinian land but in Kashmir there is no occupation. If there is trouble, it is because of cross-border violence that is being sponsored by Pakistan,” asserted a senior official of the foreign ministry.

The secretary general has also set up an eminent persons group to come up with suggestions to bring about the required changes in the world body to face the challenges of the 21st century. Vajpayee in his recent speech at the UN General Assembly had also called for restructuring the Security Council to reflect the new realities.

Annan will be in India for three days from October 12 before leaving for Malaysia. The secretary general was also to visit Sri Lanka but the island-nation may now be dropped from his travel plans.

Foreign minister Yashwant Sinha will be Annan’s main host and the two leaders are scheduled to have detailed talks on October 13. The secretary general will also meet Vajpayee and possibility also call on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

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