The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal works on Asean anti-terror blast at Bali

New Delhi, Oct. 3: India plans to get major world powers to rally behind its proposal for a comprehensive convention to fight global terrorism.

A first step in that direction will be a joint declaration that India is scheduled to sign with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) next week. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is leaving for Bali on Sunday evening to attend a summit between India and Asean.

A joint declaration with Asean will not only put the Southeast Asian seal on the definition of terrorism, but will also be accepted by the Asean Regional Forum — the highest security forum in the region represented by most major powers in the world.

Vajpayee is also scheduled to address a business meeting in Bali and sign a protocol confirming India’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with Southeast Asia. The Prime Minister is also slated to have several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Asean summit, including one with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao.

The two leaders will discuss regional and international developments, particularly Iraq. However, the issue that is likely to claim centrestage will be the boundary dispute that the countries’ special representatives, Brajesh Mishra and Dai Bingguo, are set to discuss later this month in Delhi.

A framework agreement leading to free trade arrangement between India and Asean is also likely to be signed in Thailand, where Vajpayee is on a four-day visit. “It will be more on the lines of the joint declaration that the Asean has signed with the United States,” foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said today.

Pointing to the obstacles Delhi has faced in the UN in getting member countries to agree on the definition of terrorism, Sibal said “red herrings” have failed to unite the international community to be supportive of India’s proposal for a convention.

The foreign secretary said some countries had been raising the “root-cause” cry to scuttle any move to arrive at a consensus on defining a terrorist. But the Asean-US joint declaration makes it clear that terrorism by individuals and the state cannot be justified and it is imperative for the civilised world to unitedly fight this menace.

Although Sibal did not mention it, Pakistan has been using “root cause” as an excuse to thwart India’s attempts to get the international community to agree on who is a terrorist and what amounts to an act of terrorism.

Islamabad has been trying to link the situation in Kashmir with that in Palestine.

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