Miliband praises Pranab Mukherjee

April 20th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 20 (IANS) British Foreign Secretary David Miliband paid handsome tributes to his opposite number Pranab Mukherjee Monday three months after raising eyebrows in New Delhi with a statement about Kashmir.
Miliband made opportunistic use of a London Book Fair event to praise Mukherjee’s “breadth of vision” following the Indian external affairs minister’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sri Lanka.

During a much-publicised visit to India in January Miliband was reported to have addressed Mukherjee - the senior of the two - by his first name.

His statement calling for efforts to resolve the Kashmir dispute - made in the context of the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai - also upset India before Mukherjee stepped in to declare the incident a “closed chapter”.

Appearing alongside the economist Amartya Sen on the opening day of the book fair Monday, Miliband said Mukherjee’s was a “loud and clear voice” on the need for Sri Lankan authorities to declare a ceasefire in order to help civilians escape the current civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.

Billed as a conversation, the half-hour event saw Miliband interviewing Sen on a variety of subjects about India, including what kind of role it would play if made a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Miliband praised India as a “remarkable success story in a very challenging part of the world” - for its democracy, economic growth, traditions of tolerance and mutual respect, internationalism and traditions of thought.

India was the third largest contributor to international peacekeeping, he said.

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