Shimla, July 8: The Congress knows the importance of Indo-US relations in the country’s changing foreign policy priorities, yet the party appears reluctant to openly acknowledge it.
This became obvious today, after two days of closed-door deliberations at the party’s ongoing vichar manthan shivir here. Sources said a panel of leaders that debated the party’s foreign policy strongly demanded the deletion of crucial portions of a paragraph in a draft position paper prepared by the leadership.
The relevant portion of the paragraph read: “The Congress party acknowledges the high importance of India’s relations with the USA...However, foreign policy decisions have to be primarily based on considerations of India’s supreme national interests.”
Apparently, several delegates strongly felt there was no need to include this bit. They managed to get it deleted, sources said.
Their apparent reason was the numerous critical references to US policies in the draft paper. The second portion of the paragraph concerned declared that the Congress could not accept America’s “unilateralism in international relations and doctrines like regime change and pre-emptive strikes which this kind of unilateralism necessarily incorporates”.
Without naming the US, the draft expressed concern over unilateral recourse to unbridled force that characterised the sole superpower’s approach as seen in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Congress also stated its opposition to sending Indian troops to Iraq without the cover of UN umbrella.
But the draft formulations, prepared by a panel headed by Arjun Singh and authored mainly by Natwar Singh, quietly articulated a subtle, yet important change in the party’s position on the nuclear issue. The paper urged the five world nuclear powers to accord India formal nuclear power status, post-Pokhran II.
The party also stated that Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 disarmament plan would have to be revised.