Retired diplomats appeal for ‘closing ranks’ over n-deal (Lead)

October 11th, 2008 - 6:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) Hailing the 123 agreement as an “extraordinary achievement” of India’s foreign policy, a group of retired Indian ambassadors has called for “closing ranks” over the nuclear deal and underlined that it did not adversely impact the country’s strategic programme.The newly-formed Ambassadors’ Forum appealed to all to “close ranks and re-establish the traditional consensus on India’s independent foreign policy”.

“India’s agreements on civilian nuclear cooperation with the US and France, the impending agreement with Russia, and the India-specific waiver extended by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are extraordinary achievements of Indian foreign policy,” the forum said in a statement.

“The political leadership, Indian diplomats and scientists deserve the highest commendation for their patient and clear sighted pursuit of Indian national interest,” they said.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the 123 India-US civil nuclear cooperation pact in Washington early Saturday morning (India time).

“It is particularly noteworthy that all this has been achieved without adverse effect on our independent strategic programme,” the retired diplomats said while underlining that these nuclear agreements were concluded in “India’s best interest”.

The statement was issued after the forum’s inaugural meeting at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank. The meeting was chaired by M.K. Rasgotra, former foreign secretary and chairman of the National Security Advisory Board.

The forum would take up issues of foreign policy, security, economy which would have a bearing on India’s foreign policy.

The statement has been signed by former foreign secretaries, including M.K. Rasgotra, K. Raghunath, Lalit Mansingh and veteran diplomats - A.N. Ram, J. Hiremath, Arjun Asrani, Dilip Lahiri, Arundhati Ghose and Kuldip Sahdev.

Alluding to “distressing and acrimonious polarisation” within the Indian political system and policy establishment over the nuclear issue, the veteran diplomats underscored the need for “closing ranks” to help India find its rightful policy in the new international order.

“…it is our sincere hope that we shall all close ranks and re-establish the traditional consensus on India’s independent foreign policy in a multipolar international system, in the management of which India is expected to shoulder increasing responsibilities,” they said.

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