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'There is nothing secular about the protests'

How do you see a section of Indians that is uncomfortable with India's closeness to the US? Do you see any link between the attack in Varanasi and growing discontent in India against the US, as some politicians have commented?

I can't link it. There is no evidence. But what is shown by the Varanasi attack, as was shown in Delhi, Ayodhya and Bangalore is that terrorism emanating from Pakistan and now even from Bangladesh has not stopped. This is one aspect of it.

With regards to the anti-Bush protests, I think they were reprehensible. The first time in history of independent India where a section of population was incited against a foreign power and to come out and demonstrate in a violent manner is not good for Indian democracy. I personally feel that those political parties which are represented in Parliament and state assemblies should have adequate forums to air their views and opposition, they should not be taking to the streets. It's clear that these demonstrations are for the purpose of getting votes of that particular community in the coming elections. There is nothing secular about these protests.

  Would you agree that a silent revolution in India's foreign policy took place on July 18 when India voted for the resolution against Iran?

I think if the US Congress endorses the agreement of separation and if it is accepted by the NSG, then it does open a new chapter in Indo-US strategic relationship. What is going to be the impact is yet to be seen. When you come close to another country your differences also begin to appear in a sharper way. When you are at distance then it remains vague. How do we manage these differences? How does the US manage those differences? I have given you the case of Myanmar and Iran. President Bush mentioned Myanmar in his opening remarks but our President is in that country.

Difference of opinion! On Iran our PM says we are against a change in regime, the US is openly saying they want a change. Differences will continue but how we manage them is going to be important. But if you come to the situation that when the US Congress says unless you vote in such a way with regards to Iran we are not going to approve the nuclear deal, then obviously it's harmful to India's interests.

Please allow me to ask you a straight question. The government does listen to you carefully. But many people feel that when you were in power and when you were the important man, it is you who envisaged the Indo-US strategic partnership along with then prime minister Vajpayee, Jaswant Singh and others but now you are not supporting it because the deal that you could not get credit for has been clinched by the Singh government. How true is this charge?

Whenever your adversary descends to a personal level that means he or she has lost the argument. They must base their reasons to move this agreement forward on the merits of the agreement. By getting personal, they have lost the argument!

In the picture: An anti-George Bush protestor in New Delhi

Also See: A global bully as a friend

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