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Iraq: BJP targets Natwar Singh

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | June 13, 2004 00:27 IST

Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha has said his successor Natwar Singh suffers from a foot-in-the-mouth syndrome and has become a national liability in less then twenty days of assumption of office.

"In a little over three weeks in office, Natwar Singh has made 5-6 earthshaking statements that were totally unwarranted and not in tune with the foreign policy followed by India. He has got foot-in-the-mouth syndrome and has become a national liability. He has made a significant statement on sending troops to Iraq after a meeting with the American secretary of state Collin Powell," Sinha told mediapersons in Delhi on Saturday.

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"The policy followed by the National Democratic Alliance government was clear that unless there is a clear United Nations resolution about sending troops to Iraq under UN supervision, there was no question of sending troops to Iraq. Natwar Singh should realize that there is a parliamentary resolution to this effect and any decision would have to be taken by the parliament," he added.

He accused Singh of reopening the issue by saying that India has neither said aye or nay on sending troops to Iraq. He asked if the ground realities in Iraq had changed to merit a rethink on this issue.

"In fact the security situation in Iraq has gone from bad to worse. Indian troops would be travelling only as peacekeepers, which means that they would neither receive nor open fire from the Iraqi people. Besides the interim government of Iraq is yet to be handed over the power," he clarified.

According to him, sending one division for peace-keeping purposes to Iraq would cost India Rs 2,000 crore per annum.

"If the forces go under UN resolution, they world body would foot the bill and if they go at the behest of the new government in Iraq, we would have to negotiate the terms with them," he said.

Listing other instances where Singh has slipped up, Sinha pointed out to his statements on Pakistan and about India, Pakistan and China having a common nuclear doctrine.

He advised his successor to carefully word his statements before making them public least he end up clarifying his position time and again like he has done in the recent past. Sinha claimed that Singh had telephoned Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri a number of times to clarify some of his recent statements.

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