India to attend Conference on West Asia

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New Delhi, Nov 23 (UNI) India will participate in a conference on West Asia to be convened by the United States at Annapolis in Maryland on November 27.

Mr Chinmaya R Garekhan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's envoy for West Asia and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), will lead the Indian delegation at the conference convened to discuss a solution to the West Asia crisis.

This was disclosed by Mr Gharekhan in his valedictory address at a two-day international conference on 'Emerging Security Concerns in West Asia' here. The Conference was organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Rosa Luxumburg Foundation of Germany.

Mr Garekhan said that during his visits to West Asian States, he had been invariably told by his interlocutors of India's ability to play an important role in the region.

''India is perhaps a unique country with a fully functioning democracy, a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual pluralist society. India, thus, could provide a model to the societies in West Asia. Indeed this possible role of a model has been emphasised to me by leaders in responsible positions in my conversations with them. It is in this spirit that India will participate in the Annapolis conference,'' Mr Gharekhan said.

He said the very fact that the conference is being convened, would suggest that adequate common ground had been achieved between the two sides during their pre-negotiations, bilateral as well as with the active participation and involvement of the US.

(Palestine) President Abbas as well as Arab States were reluctant to attend the meeting if it was going to turn out to be merely another photo opportunity. The Palestinians would like the Annapolis Conference to be a genuine launching pad for intensive, meaningful and well-directed negotiations, covering all aspects, to be concluded within a definite timeframe, he added.

Mr Garekhan said he was convinced that President Abbas was committed to finding a reasonable settlement and would not shy away from reaching an agreement if he was genuinely satisfied about reasonableness, even if it would not meet all the demands of the Palestinian people.

He said it was of the utmost importance that the Annapolis meeting not fail or be perceived to fail by either side.

''Yet another failure would have negative consequences and would greatly strengthen the extremist and radical forces,'' he said.

Mr Gharekhan said in this age of globalisation, terrorism had also been globalised. He expressed concern that West Asia had emerged as one of the two most important breeding grounds of terrorism.

''Indeed, globalisation of telecommunications has facilitated the growth of global terrorism. India, being next door to West Asia, has every reason to feel worried and concerned,'' he said.

He said India was also worried about the growing tension between Shia and Sunni Muslims, especially after the Iraq invasion, with India's own Muslim population being the second largest in the world.

The two-day ORF-RLF seminar was inaugurated by the Vice- President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday. The conference deliberated on various aspects impacting the emerging security situation in the region, including role of ideology, ideological radicalisation, political developments in the region and their impact on stability and security, role of external and regional powers and desirable policy options for India and Europe.


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