Describing the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain as 'unfortunate', India said on Saturday that it was 'disappointed' over the development.
"We had already expressed the hope that the execution would not be carried out. We are disappointed that it has been," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement. "We hope that the unfortunate event will not affect the process of reconciliation, restoration of peace and normalcy in Iraq."
The government had earlier expressed opposition to Hussein's execution and cautioned that no steps should be taken that could delay restoration of peace in the troubled country.
"It is our hope that the sentence will not be carried out and the former President's life would be spared," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna had said on Monday after an Iraqi appeals court upheld the death sentence to Hussein.
New Delhi had hoped that 'no steps' would be taken which 'might obstruct the process of reconciliation and delay restoration of peace in Iraq'.
The ousted Iraqi President was sentenced to the gallows on November 5 this year for the 1982 killings of 148 people in a Shiite town after an attempt on his life there.
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said India has never endorsed 'anything' that has happened in Iraq in the recent times and termed it as 'wrong'.
Maintaining that Hussein's execution will not help in the process of normalisation in Iraq, he hoped that the government in Baghdad and the forces there will join hands to give priority to reconciliation so that violence ends there.
He, however, insisted that the hanging cannot be linked with Indo-US relations which are growing. "I don't think, you can link one issue to another," he said.
Emphasising that the government had never been soft on the Iraq issue, Sharma said "India has an independent foreign policy. We convey our position very clearly. But as far as closeness (with the US) is concerned, yes, we are engaged with the US as other countries."
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