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'No troops for Iraq, UN resolution or no UN resolution'
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | September 15, 2003 18:02 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is likely to stick to India's refusal to send troops to Iraq at his meeting with US President George Bush in New York on September 23.
Senior government officials said there is no change in India's position and the possibility of committing troops for Iraq 'is far more remote' now than it was when the request was first made by the US.
The government, they said, is clear on its decision not to send troops to Iraq 'even if the UN Security Council passes a resolution' calling for a multinational force for Iraq.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had on July 14 sought an explicit UN Security Council resolution to send troops to Iraq. That position has since changed.
Vajpayee will leave India on September 16 on a 13-day trip to Turkey and the United States.
The prime minister will spend three days in Turkey, travelling to Ankara and Istanbul to meet his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
India had consulted Turkey, Iran and other neighbours of Iraq before the CCS took the July 14 decision not to send troops to Iraq.
The ground situation in Iraq has changed and Indian observers have repeatedly warned of the deteriorating law and order situation and the possibility of Indian troops being targeted if deployed, officials said.
A political controversy over a potentially bloody deployment in Iraq is something the government would like to avoid.
Spelling out India's new position, Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said in an interview this Sunday, India "feels that the sooner sovereignty is restored to the Iraqi people and governance is handed back to them the better, or else the security situation will not improve."
In his UN address, Prime Minister Vajpayee will refer to India's fight against cross-border terrorism and call for a coordinated effort the global menace, an official said.
Vajpayee will also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and several other world leaders during his stay in New York.
Foreign Minister Sinha will host a meeting of foreign ministers of Russia and China, which is an ongoing practice of consultations between the three countries on the sidelines of the General Assembly.