The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh sees ‘big power’ hurdle to UN seat

On board Air India One, Oct. 14: Having lost the race for the UN secretary-general’s job two weeks ago, the chances of India joining the high table at the Security Council also seem to have receded.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today admitted that “some big powers” were coming in the way of India realising its ambition.

“Those in power would not like to give up their power. Some big powers still do not appear to have made up their mind. Therefore, we have a long way to go before effective reforms in the Security Council can be realised,” Singh said.

He was clearly hinting at the US. Of the permanent five members of the council, Britain, France and Russia have supported India’s candidature while China, though opposed to Japan’s candidature, is privately sympathetic to India. That only leaves the US.

Singh also seemed somewhat tentative about the future of the India-US nuclear deal. “I do not control the legislative process of the US. But I still feel, and we have assurance of the US government, that they are very serious....”

Claiming growing support for India in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, to whom India made a presentation on Thursday in Vienna, Singh said: “All the major powers — Russia, France, Britain and the US — are supportive of India being given exceptional treatment and of the terms of our agreement with the US.”

Reluctant to name Pakistan directly in Europe, on the way back home the Prime Minister was very pointed about its role in terrorist acts in India. He claimed that Delhi would provide Islamabad credible evidence of the involvement of “elements in the Pakistan establishment” in acts of terrorism against India.

Referring to denials already emanating from Pakistan, he asked: “Before we have even given them evidence, what is the point of talking like this'”

About the embarrassment caused to the government over the appointment of the U.C. Banerjee Committee inquiring the Gujarat riots being described as politically motivated and illegal by the state’s high court, Singh said he would review the situation and decide whether to go for an appeal or explore other alternatives.

He suggested that the Centre was not going to take a hasty decision on the recommendations of the Jeevan Reddy Commission for repealing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. “We have to understand the gravity of the situation in various parts of the country.”

Defence agents

The Prime Minister refused to comment specifically on former defence minister George Fernandes being charged in the Barak deal. “The legal process must proceed,” he said while admitting that the question of agents in defence deals was a vexing one.

“If agents cannot be done away with, then we must know who the agents are. They could be registered or some other mechanism would have to be found.”

Asked about Fernandes’s comments on the President, he said with a wicked smile: “Nothing surprises me — particularly a comment from Mr George Fernandes.”

Singh said he had read parts of General Pervez Musharraf’s autobiography and found it “very interesting”. But he refused to make any specific comments on the contents of the book as “India and Pakistan had to do business with each other”.

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