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September 6, 2000
Vajpayee arrives too late to make impact at UN summit
Amberish K Diwanji at the United Nations
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United Nations this week, which precedes his journey to Washington DC to meet US President Clinton, could become an exercise with limited impact.
Besides addressing the Millennium Summit at the UN General Assembly, for which purpose New York is currently choc-a-block with leaders from across the world, Vajpayee was hoping to hold a number of bilateral meetings with other leaders.
Unfortunately, the Indian PM arrives too late. Vajpayee arrives in New York late morning on Thursday, September 7, and addresses the Millennium Summit on Friday, September 8, afternoon.
By this time, most of the other leaders would have left New York or be busy with other engagements.
It is not clear if the prime minister will hold any engagements on Thursday itself, but given his bad knee, officials are keen to let Vajpayee recover from the long flight from India and reach the UN refreshed.
So far, the prime minister has only two bilateral meetings scheduled. One is with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of Nepal, the other with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed of Bangladesh.
The prime minister was originally due to arrive in New York on September 5, and hold bilateral meetings on September 6 and 7. The Summit began on Wednesday, September 6.
Government of India officials have tried to play down the impact of Vajpayee's delayed arrival. Earlier, in New Delhi, a ministry of external affairs spokesperson claimed that most leaders stay on in New York to hold bilateral meetings.
But a visit to the UN headquarters and a look at the speeches scheduled reveals otherwise.
Vajpayee will be one of the final speakers at the UN Summit. By the time he finishes his speech on Friday, he will find the corridors devoid of leaders with whom he could have held a tete-a-tete.
A host of top leaders, including those of the United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom, China and Germany, will speak on Wednesday.
General Pervez Musharraf, the chief executive of Pakistan, is scheduled to speak on Thursday, September 7. The Indian side has ruled out any meeting between Musharraf and Vajpayee.
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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