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Pentagon officials brief
Brajesh, MEA on Iraq
Josy Joseph in New Delhi |
June 16, 2003 21:39 IST
A team of officials from the US departments of state and defence on Monday met National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra, Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal and senior officials in the Ministry of External Affairs to pursue the American request for Indian troops for peacekeeping in Iraq.
The US team led by Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Peter Rodman and comprising officials from both the state department and the Pentagon met with an Indian delegation led by P S Prakash, Joint Secretary (UNP) in the Ministry of External Affairs, to hold two rounds of extensive discussions.
In a statement this evening, the MEA said the government "sought clarification on a number of issues, including the development of a responsible Iraqi interim administration, future political evolution in Iraq and the humanitarian relief and reconstruction activities."
The government representatives also quizzed the American side about the "nature of forces that would be required for stability operations, their role and mandate and the relationship with the UN."
The discussions, the MEA said, were part of a process of wide ranging consultations that the "government proposes to hold to have a better appreciation of the situation."
During the first pre-lunch session, the American side presented its perspective of the latest situation in Iraq.
In the second round, the Indian side, including representatives from the Ministry of Defence, questioned the American side on various aspects of their proposal.
After the delegation level talks, the American officials called on Foreign Secretary Sibal and briefed him about the American proposal. Later, they also met with National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra.
Sources said the Indian side's main concerns include the chain of command, the kind of security atmosphere and threats to the Indian forces if deployed, communication links, other countries who would be participating in the efforts, logistical support, payments for soldiers etc.
The Congress and other opposition parties have opposed deployment of the Indian Army under US command, while supporting their deployment under the United Nations. However, those favouring the deployment believe if India commits troops, it would give the country further leverage with the US against Pakistan.
Government functionaries who favour the deployment also argue that if troops are committed then Indian companies would gain substantially in the reconstruction of Iraq.
America is requesting India to send a full division of over 10,000 troops to Iraq. Army is seemingly ready because that would give it an opportunity to raise substitute divisions and get increased budgetary allocations for raising them.
Should the Indian soldier shed his blood for the UN?