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No troops for Iraq: Vajpayee tells Bush

Aziz Haniffa in New York | September 25, 2003 09:11 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his meeting with US President George W Bush on Wednesday pre-empted the possibility of an American request for troops to Iraq saying domestic security situation did not allow India to comply with any such request.

Bush, though, did not in fact make a specific request for troops during the luncheon he hosted for the prime minister at his suite at the Waldorf Astoria in the sidelines of the 58th United Nations General Assembly.

Complete coverage of Vajpayee's visit

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said, "On Iraq, the situation was reviewed and the president gave his assessment of how he saw the situation in Iraq."

"The prime minister responded to the information, which had been shared with India and then he himself volunteered the information that as far as the issue of Indian troops being deployed in Iraq was concerned, our own security requirements had greater demand in the last few weeks and we'll have to keep our internal security requirements in mind, whenever we are considering this issue," Sinha said.

"In any case, the Security Council has still to discuss this issue and the issue of a further resolution on Iraq," he added.

Earlier, emerging from a meeting with his counterpart from Russia and China, following his participating in the luncheon hosted for the prime minister by Bush, Sinha said at an impromptu press interaction that Bush had not pressed India on the issue of contributing troops in Iraq.

"This is absolutely wrong. There was no question of any pressure on us," he said.

Asked if there was any commitment from India or Pakistan to contribute troops in Iraq, a senior Bush Administration official said, "The president did not ask. Those are discussions that are going on at this point. And let me be very clear about something. The president didn't come here to ask people for troops. The president came here to lay out a call to the international community to join together in whatever way people can in supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, and in building a stable Iraq."

"Conversations are going to go on at various levels about what kinds of contributions countries can make. The donors' conference is not for almost a month. And, as you know, we're also seeking a United Nations resolution that we think will make it somewhat easier for some countries to begin their own discussions of what they can do," he said

"So to the degree that there was any thought that the president might come and ask people specifically for specific contributions, that simply wasn't intended," the official said.

Sinha said the prime minister had also strongly brought up the issue of cross-border terrorism that continued to be fomented by Pakistan and asserted that no dialogue with Islamabad was possible until there was a permanent halt in the level of infiltration.

Sinha said that Bush was informed about the continuing cross-border terrorism and infiltration even after Vajpayee's peace initiative.

"So both in terms of infiltration as well as in terms of the infrastructure of terrorism, the situation remained the same," Sinha quoted Vajpayee as telling Bush.

"We made the point that no sustained dialogue with Pakistan would be possible if this kind of violence went on and there is no change in the mindset of the rulers of Pakistan," Sinha said.

Asked about Bush's reply, Sinha said, "I think the representative of the US Administration who have talked to the media have already given some comment on that. I think that reflects adequately what transpired."

The US official, describing Bush's meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Vajpayee, had said, "It was an excellent meeting in which they talked about the challenges in the war on terrorism, talked about the need to stop cross-border terrorism in Kashmir. And the president reiterated our friendship for Pakistan, going to be there for Pakistan, and they talked a bit about how the relationship would develop going forward."

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