India will take a ‘‘fresh look’’ at the issue of sending combat troops to Iraq, in the wake of a unanimous UN Security Council resolution on the subject in which Arab nations also participated, External Affairs minister K Natwar Singh said in Washington yesterday.
Standing side by side with his counterpart, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Singh explained that after the passage of the UN resolution ‘‘there was a changed situation’’ in Iraq. Last year, he pointed out, the Parliament had resolved not to send troops to participate in a US-led multinational force.
‘‘Now the situation has changed...We will look at it very carefully. But I must emphasize that this matter will have to be placed before the government at the highest levels, so it would be premature for me to say aye or nay,’’ Singh said after a 70-minute meeting with Powell.
But barely had Singh’s fairly routine comments in Washington found their echo in New Delhi, when the Left parties issued a critical statement.
CPI(M) politburo member Prakash Karat told reporters that the transfer of power to a new government in Iraq was not on the basis of any elections there and that the ‘‘Iraqi people have no right’’ in choosing a government. So, there is no change in the situation, he added.
He said the UN resolution was for a multi-national force whose command would rest with the United States.
‘‘There is no possibility of a change in this. The US and British forces should quit Iraq and the power should be handed over to the real representative of the people there,’’ Karat said, adding that the interim administration should be under the control of the UN.
But analysts pointed out that Singh was not focussing as much on the issue of committing troops as much as commenting on the new UN SC resolution on Iraq.
Moreover, the analysts said, Singh could be hardly expected to publicly underline a Cold War approach even as he stood side by side with Powell.
Singh, who is here to participate in former US President Ronald Reagan’s memorial service, said India was following events in Iraq very carefully and was ‘‘delighted’’ that the US and UK tabled resolution had been unanimously adopted.
Meanwhile, Powell expressed gratitude for India’s support for the UN Security Council resolution on Iraq and cited Washington’s close ties with New Delhi saying the US intends to build on that relationship. ‘‘We discussed the full range of bilateral and regional issues. But I would just say the most important issue we touched on was the fact that US and India have a very good, strong relationship right now and we intend to not only keep it strong but to build on that relationship, to move forward,’’ Powell said.