Pranab opts out, Anand Sharma to attend ARF meetJuly 15th, 2008 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) With a trust vote looming in parliament next week, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also a leading political manager of the ruling coalition, has decided to send junior minister Anand Sharma to Singapore to attend a ministerial meeting of the Asean Regional Forum. Mukherjee was slated to attend the crucial ARF meeting in Singapore July 21-24. But with the government battling for survival after the Left parties withdrew their support last week, he decided to send Sharma for it, official sources said.
Anand Sharma is a Rejya Sabha member elected to the upper house from Himachal Pradesh. Rajya Sabha members do participate in the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha.
Mukherjee’s political skills are much in demand as the ruling UPA coalition requires the support of smaller parties to sail through the trust vote scheduled in teh Lok Sabha for July 22.
Attending the ARF meeting is an important international commitment for India, which acquires added significance in the context of New Delhi’s growing economic and political engagement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia (Asean).
With the government taking a political call to push the India-US nuclear deal forward, the ARF ministerial meeting will also provide a setting for seeking the support of some Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries which will be represented at the meet.
Foreign ministers from Australia, Canada, EU, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the US, dialogue partners of Asean, are expected to be present at the ARF meet. The dialogue partners, except India, also happen to be members of the NSG.