India pledges support for Palestine at UN

India pledges support for Palestine at UN
Anirban Bhaumik, New Delhi, Sep 21, DHNS:
Amid speculation of a drift in New Delhi’s ties with Washington, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to assert India’s ”distinct world view” at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York this week.
As India pledged support to Palestine’s bid for UN membership, notwithstanding the intense diplomatic efforts by the US and its allies in the West to block the move, the prime minister is likely to call for restoring the global leadership role of the international body.

New Delhi’s stand is in sharp contrast with that of Washington as articulated by US President Barak Obama at the opening of the 66th session of the UNGA.

Singh is also set to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York, with New Delhi stressing the role of Tehran in stabilising not only Afghanistan, but also the
turbulent West Asia, North Africa and the Gulf regions. India is believed to have serious differences with the US on the mode of international response to the turmoil in Libya and Syria.

“This is the time for the United Nations to resume its global leadership role,” the prime minister said in a statement before leaving for New York. He noted the current economic instability around the world, upheavals in the West Asia, North Africa and Gulf regions, menace of terrorism, piracy and other non-traditional threats to international political and social orders.

Singh emphasised the leadership role of the UN on a
day Obama said that statements and resolutions in the international body would
not end the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Stressing that the UN must be seen as “an impartial, credible and effective body,” Singh said he would emphasise the need for “early reform of the unique organisation, particularly an expansion of its Security Council.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to forward a formal request to the UN to accept Palestine as its 194th member. The US described the move as counterproductive and stepped up a diplomatic campaign to block it. India was the first non-Arab country to recognise the State of Palestine in 1988.

Singh recently wrote to Abbas pledging India’s full support to Palestine’s bid for UN membership, noting that New Delhi would go by its traditional principled stand on the issue.

While the prime minister is not scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama during his visit to New York, his meeting with Iranian President on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly is significant. Singh and Ahmadinejad last had a formal
bilateral meeting in April 2008, when the Iranian president had a stopover in New Delhi on his way to Sri Lanka. An invitation from the Iranian president for the prime minister to visit Tehran is also pending.

Government sources said Singh and Ahmadinejad would discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual conc­ern. “We believe Iran, which is our second biggest energy supplier, has a very important factor not only in Afghanistan, but also in
stabilising the West Asia, North Africa and Gulf regions,” said a senior official in New Delhi.

The Singh-Ahmadinejad talks are expected to break the ice between Tehran and New Delhi. India’s proximity to the US during George Bush’s te­n­ure in the White House and its votes against Iran on the issue of the latter’s controversial nuc­l­ear programme had upset Tehran.

Government sources, however, said that India’s stand on Palestine or its effort to further strengthen traditional ties with Iran would have no impact on its relation with the US. “We are a distinct power in our own right and we have a distinct world view, which is shaped by our own national principles and interests,” said an official.

India’s decision not to buy US multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force, the Nu­clear Supplier Group’s decision to restrict transfer of enr­i­chment and reprocessing
te­chnology to the countries that are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and India’s distinct stand on crises in Libya and Syria fuelled speculation of a drift in Delhi-Washington ties.

Resolution tomorrow

The controversial issue of statehood for Palestine will be raised in the United Nations (UN) on September 23, reports DHNS from New Delhi. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to forward a formal request to the UN to accept Palestine as its 194th member.

( / 21.09.2011)

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