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Manmohan's UN address to focus on terror

September 17, 2004 20:41 IST
Last Updated: September 17, 2004 21:35 IST

India's serious concerns on terrorism and the need for 'collective action' of the international community to combat it will figure prominently in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly and his parleys with world leaders, including US President George W Bush in New York next week.

The prime minister will address the UN General Assembly on September 23. He is also scheduled to hold his first meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf during his stay in New York.

"India's concerns in this regard are very high on our agenda... we think this issue requires a collective action by the international community," Rajiv Sikri, Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry told reporters on being asked whether New Delhi's concerns over terrorism, including cross-border terrorism will be raised by the prime minister during his visit.

India's 'priorities' at the UN meet will be to pursue its initiatives and safeguard interests in areas of UN reforms, nuclear disarmament, eradication of poverty, ensuring sustainable development and making positive contribution to agenda items for achieving millilenium development goals, he said.

Singh leaves on Sunday for London where he will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair over a working lunch on Monday and later that day fly to New York.

A joint declaration will be issued after the Singh-Blair talks. It is expected to dwell upon future strategy to be adopted by two countries on combating key global challenges like terrorism, illegal immigration and conflict resolution.

Describing India's relations with Britain as 'substantive and multifaceted', Sikri said the visit would provide useful opportunity to the two leaders to also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

A hectic schedule awaits Singh during his week-long stay in New York. He will have a breakfast meeting with Bush on Tuesday, his first meeting with the American leader.

The two leaders may finalise a landmark document on high-technology transfers. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran is already in Washington for final negotiations on the 'Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP)' with his American interlocutors.

This could clear the way for enhanced cooperation in civilian uses of space technology, civilian nuclear
activities and high technology trade besides expanding dialogue on missile defence.

Asked whether an agreement on NSSP was on the cards, Sikri said he would not like to anticipate what will emerge from the meeting.

He said the foreign secretary was holding meetings in this regard with key officials of the Bush
Administration. "I am sure it will lead to some outcome," he said.

The prime minister will also have a meeting with Afghan President Hameed Karzai.

To a question on when the Singh-Musharraf meeting will take place, Sikri said, "I don't know what are the exact timing of this meeting because these are subject of the schedules of the leaders. That is all being coordinated by our mission in New York."

Official sources said the meeting is most likely to take place on September 22, the day Musharraf addresses the UN session.

Asked about Singh's approach to his talks with Musharraf, Sikri said, "I won't speculate on what is going to be discussed."

On CBMs, Sikri recalled that the foreign ministers and the foreign Ssecretaries of the two countries had recently met and that the dialogue process was continuing. "I cannot anticipate what will happen."

He said following a proposal from Tokyo, leaders from Japan, India, Germany and Brazil are likely to meet in New York.

All the four countries are candidates for permanent membership of an enlarged UN Security Council and ready to support each other's entry into the world body.

"These are four major countries who have the capacity to contribute significantly to the UN and ready to shoulder this responsibility," Sikri said.

"We think the UN today is very different from what it was in 1945 with fewer members against the present strength of 192. So, there is need for reforms," he said.

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