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Vajpayee arrives in New York

M Shakeel Ahmed in New York | September 20, 2003 05:54 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee arrived in New York on Friday on a weeklong visit during which he would meet United States President George W Bush on September 23 and address the United Nations General Assembly on September 25.

Complete coverage of Vajpayee's visit

Vajpayee, who has come out strongly against 'double standards' adopted by some western countries in dealing with terrorism, is expected to underpin the importance of the international community to unite to root out the scourge and ensure global peace and security in his UNGA address.

Besides meeting Bush on September 23, Vajpayee is also expected to meet several other world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of UNGA during his stay here.

The developments in Iraq and the U S draft resolution in the UN Security Council for stationing of a multilateral force in the war-ravaged country, the West Asia crisis and the situation in Afghanistan are expected to be high on Vajpayee's agenda during his meetings with world leaders and his UNGA address.

Vajpayee is the only Indian Prime Minister to address the UN General Assembly for five consecutive years.

Though India will continue its balancing act on the West Asia front, Vajpayee, who reached New York after a four-day visit to Turkey, is likely to convey to the world community New Delhi's opposition to any Israeli move to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the West Bank.

Another area of concern to India is resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan, which is likely to be reflected in the discussions, Indian officials said.

Vajpayee, who is leading a high-level delegation, may use the occasion to focus on serious concerns of developing countries on international trade including agriculture and

Singapore issues, which came in the spotlight during the just-concluded Cancun WTO Ministerial that collapsed due to sharp differences with developed nations.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Vajpayee is likely to stress the role of multilateralism in dealing with Iraq situation and to call for wider role for the UN in political and humanitarian fields.

Besides addressing the Assembly, his engagements include address to Asia Society on Monday, a public meeting on Sunday and discussions with groups of Indian-Americans who are keen to help in the development of India.

Vajpayee is expected to address concern of NRIs on several issues including dual citizenship, as also to outline steps India is taking to attract investments at a public meeting in Manhattan which is expected to be attended by around 4000 people.

Another occasion for him to meet the selected community members would be a reception being given by Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh.

A few hours after he speaks at the Assembly on September 25, Vajpayee is scheduled to participate in a literary conference being organised by the US chapter of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The conference is expected to be an evening of relaxation for Vajpayee to be spent with poets and writers, and an occasion for him to recite his own poetry.

He would leave for home the next day.

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