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UNSC game is on, says foreign secretary

By Our correspondent in Washington D.C.
July 19, 2005 05:29 IST
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In perhaps the clearest sign of maturity and a sense of self-worth, the Indian delegation led by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh appears unfazed by the fact that the United States has as good as turned its thumb down on India's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.


Consider this: Not so long ago – in fact, during the first term of this President – India's government, bureaucratic/diplomatic establishment and media experienced collective apoplexy when then Secretary of State Colin Powell came visiting, made all the nice noises, then hopped over the border and blindsided the then Bharatiya Janata Party-led government by granting Major non-NATO Ally status to Pakistan.


Another time, another place – a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was due to touch down in Washington DC on his first ever official visit, the US unambiguously set itself against India's candidature to the UNSC. And the reaction from the Indian delegation is: so what?


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'The US is welcome to have its own opinion on the matter,' Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said at a media briefing July 18 evening.


And it should be noted, he said, that the US has agreed that India has a very important role, a central role, to play in international affairs, Saran pointed out; on that, there is no ambiguity.


'As to the rest, as I said, the US has its own opinion on our bid for a UNSC seat, and we respect that, but we are going ahead with our initiative nonetheless.'


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The recent visit to New York by External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, his meeting with the G4 leaders and with the 53-nation strong African Union, the forming of a co-ordination committee of the two groups, were all steps in that direction, Saran pointed out.


And right now, the foreign secretary pointed out, the coordination committee of the G4 and the African Union was meeting in New York.


'The game is on,' Saran said. 'We have not allowed the US position to curtail our own initiatives; we will do what we think is right for us.'

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Our correspondent in Washington D.C.