New Delhi, July 27: On the eve of its meeting with the seniormost US defence official, India has made it clear that its stand on deployment of troops to Iraq could only be reviewed if a fresh mandate is passed by the UN Security Council asking its members to contribute troops for stabilising the embattled country.
The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Richard B. Myers, is arriving here tomorrow for talks with senior Indian defence officials on steps to build stronger defence ties between the two sides and discuss the latest developments in the region, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, sources said the US general’s visit is part of a regular interaction that the defence establishments of the countries have agreed to have over the past few years.
There is no fixed agenda for his meetings and discussions in the next two days will be freewheeling ones where both sides could raise issues of importance.
Myer’s main meeting is with senior Indian defence officials, including the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee and chief of naval staff, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, and chief of army staff General .C. Vij. The American general will also meet national security adviser Brajesh Mishra.
Tomorrow’s meeting is likely to set the tone for the defence policy group meeting between the two sides to be held between August 6 and 7 in Washington.
South Block officials said though Iraq would come up for discussion, it would be more in the nature of getting an assessment from the Americans on the ground situation in the war-ravaged country.
US soldiers dying at regular intervals to sniper attacks has added another dimension to the unstable situation in Iraq. Delhi would like to know the visiting US team’s views on the situation and how they propose to bring it under control.
“Though we would like to get a sense of how the Americans see the evolving situation in Iraq, on deployment of troops, there will be no change in our stand till there is a fresh UN Security Council resolution,” a senior foreign ministry official said.
The Cabinet Committee on Security, in its July 14 meeting, had decided against sending troops to Iraq on the basis of the US request.
But the security committee had made it clear that it was willing to review the decision if the Security Council passed a fresh resolution with an “explicit mandate” to its members to participate in the stabilisation effort in Iraq.
US secretary of state Colin Powell had made it clear that Washington was trying to get a fresh resolution passed by the Security Council to make it easier for countries like India to participate in the effort in Iraq.
The process has begun in New York. But indications are that it will take a while for a fresh resolution to be passed with such explicit mandate as it will require the unambiguous support of the majority in the 15-member council, particularly countries with veto power.
Indications are that India also might raise the issue of the sale of the Arrow anti-missile system.