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Peninsula On-line, Qatar / BJP leader calls for independent Palestinian state

3/21/2007 5:8:57
Source ::: The Peninsula
Yashwant Sinha

by staff reporter

Doha • Former Indian minister of external affairs, former finance minister and now a leading figure of the country's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Yashwant Sinha, appeared to have strayed from the party line yesterday when he spoke in support of Palestine.

The BJP is the party, when in government heading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition, brought India closer to Israel, mainly through the signing of lucrative arms deals. In the days of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, India would have had no truck with Israel, a practice that continued until the NDA swept to power.

In a speech made yesterday at a conference held at the Ritz-Carlton themed ‘Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future', Sinha said: "India's support for the Palestinian cause is rooted in history. We believe that there can be no military solution to the Palestinian issue. It is important for both sides, therefore, to eschew violence and fully cooperate with the international community to achieve the objective of the creation of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine within a reasonable time-frame living in peace with Israel, with both countries having secure and recognised borders."

Arab states had started to keep India at arms' length during the NDA's stint in power, because of its open pro-Israel bias.

The government had also brought the country closer to the US as it junked Cold War diplomacy.

Speaking on the GCC and Qatar, he said that 4.5 million Indians live and work in the countries in the region. "Of this, over 170,000 live in Qatar and constitute the largest community among foreigners in the state. The region provides 70 per cent of India's oil and gas needs. Our non-oil trade with this region is worth over $20bn," Sinha said.

The former minister stated India was pained by the suffering the Iraqi people have undergone. "India would like to see a stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and democratic Iraq. We were against a military solution from the beginning of this crisis. Subsequent developments have confirmed our worst apprehensions," he said.

Another major issue causing international concern, Iran's nuclear programme, should be resolved by the international community through dialogue with Iran.

"I believe that Iran must abide by its commitments to the IAEA. No useful purpose is going to be served by threatening and coercing Iran to accept obligations beyond what they have already assumed under the NPT and the additional protocols," stated Sinha.

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