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Global crisis may dwarf PM's agenda in New York

Sheela Bhatt in New York | September 23, 2008 23:46 IST

It's not exactly party time at the United Nations General Assembly, where more than 400 world leaders are meeting.

History's greatest financial fall: How it began

Fearful shadows of the global financial crisis triggered by the failure of financial biggies of US have overtaken headlines in New York.

"Global leaders will be coming to New York this week for the annual General Assembly, but one of the issues that is going to be uppermost on their minds is the global financial crisis, and no doubt many leaders will want to address that issue as well as the UN agenda," the British ambassador to the United Nations, Sir John Steward, told media persons.

 Nuclear deal faces bumpy ride in US Senate

World leaders, who are in New York for the annual UNGA debate, are talking about the great bailout plan and the depth and breadth of the economic crisis.   

Dr Singh arrives in New York around lunch time and will stay at Hotel New York Palace. His five-day visit starts amidst tension and uncertainty over the unclear position of Indo-US civil nuclear deal in Capitol Hill, where the focus currently is on bailing out failing business giants to save the stumbling American economy.

It's official: PM won't ink N-deal with Bush

Importantly, public opinion is mounting pressure on Bush administration to not 'buy bad loans but to buy the equity of the bad financial institutions'. Doubts over a rescue plan have forced politicians to speak out.

Moreover, there is resistance from the US Congress to President Bush's request for $700 billion to buy mortgages-related assets from failing financial institutions. 

'History will decide on Dr Manmohan Singh'

"If the nuclear deal doesn't meet its D-day before Dr Singh meets President Bush on September 25, it must be due to forces and issues beyond the control of President Bush. His office has done more than any President can do to take this deal to its logical conclusion," said a retired diplomat speaking from New Delhi [Images].

However, the next 36 hours will be quite eventful for Dr Singh.

The prime minister will be meeting his Chinese counterpart Wen Jaibao after two years. Both, leaders are likely to strengthen 'ongoing' trend of keeping tempers cool and steady the relation to let it dominate by trade.

Why China did what it did at NSG

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his latest interview, had unsurprisingly played down China's alleged obstructionist role at the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The latest round of China-India border talks has just concluded, giving signs that the issue will linger on for a longer time.

But it will be Dr Singh's meeting with Pakistan President Asif Zardari, which is being seen as significant. That Zardari is keeping away from rhetoric over the Kashmir issue has not gone unnoticed by India. Through his recent interviews, Zardari has been sending positive signals over the issue -- de-linking it from other issues.

India keen to see what Zardari has to offer it

During the meeting, both leaders are also likely to discuss the possibility of Dr Singh's pending official visit to Pakistan. According to sources, it can take place this year if both leaders reach an agreement in New York.

Though Dr Singh has already accepted the the invitation, the dates have not yet been finalised owing to the internal turmoil in Pakistan.

"Zardari is supported by US and he is helping US and NATO plans to combat terrorism. While Karzai in Afghanistan is also an American nominee, India has to make sure that region stabilizes with Dr Singh making his policy carefully to capitalize the complex but evolving situation in favour of India," said a retired diplomat, who has served in Kabul and Islamabad [Images].

India won't renegotiate 123 Agreement

He points out that if the vote on the nuclear deal is not taking place this week then Americans would like to make sure that some other issue dominates the visit of Dr Singh to Oval office.

Many observers believe that US wants to create atmosphere to drag India to commit more in Afghanistan. Right now, Bush administration is reviewing its Afghan policy and there is a proposal to increase the numbers of US troops.

It is possible that US may like India doing more than building infrastructure, schools and hospitals.

"India is not in position to send the troops but some steps that helps strengthen security in Afghanistan will be explored," says a New Delhi-based retired ambassador.

In the midst of a variety of issues and tensions, the only political leader smiling since his arrival is maverick President Ahmedinejad of Iran, who has already arrived and moving with huge security personnel.

Before taking off from Tehran he predictably said, "Israel is doomed like an airplane that has lost its engine."

He also told local media that UN should be on some 'independent land'.

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