India: Give more time to Iraq
The Jerusalem Post

12 March 2003

NEW DELHI, India - Forced to clarify his stand on the looming war against Iraq, India's leader told shouting opposition lawmakers Wednesday that Iraq must be given more time to comply with UN resolutions on disarmament.

While stopping short of condemning the United States, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said India opposes a war and forced regime change in Iraq.

He said India - which walks a fine line between good relations with both Baghdad and Washington - was seeking more time and clear benchmarks for Iraq to comply with UN resolutions to destroy weapons of mass destruction.

"It is wrong if an outside force changes power in a country and places a regime of its choice. We do not support that. This house does not support that," Vajpaee told the lower house of Parliament, whose opposition members shouted demands to firm up India's resistance to the war.

"It is my belief that there will be no unilateral action, because that means ignoring the United Nations and putting the world at risk," Vajpayee said.

The Indian government has urged Iraq to comply with UN resolutions on ridding the country of weapons of mass destruction.

"We hope that the UN members will take steps to ensure that the resolution of this issue enhances the validity and credibility of the United Nations," Vajpayee said.

Vajpayee has come under pressure from opposition politicians to clarify his policy on Iraq, after his government rejected a proposal for a UN resolution opposing any unilateral US action against Baghdad.