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Some parties trying to communalise foreign policy: Sonia

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New Delhi, Mar 28: Strongly defending India's nuclear deal with the US, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has regretted that some political parties were trying to communalise foreign policy for short term electoral gains.

''It is indeed sad that some parties were trying to communalise our foreign policy for short term electoral gains,'' Ms Gandhi said.

''This is above all, an insult to sour minorities and something that the Congress will never do,'' she added.

In a letter to Congress workers published in the party mouthpiece, Sandesh, Ms Gandhi said, ''We do not think that religion can or should be the matrix for national interest in a country as linguistically and religiously pluralistic as India.'' ''We all fought together for our independence. We all fought as a nation in the face of all external aggression and we will continue to do so.'' The Congress President expressed the confidence that the minorities would continue to support the Congress' desire to create an open society, ''where our democracy gives every one the right to articulate their difference of opinion.'' Ms Gandhi pointed out that the Congress has always remained in the forefront of the fight against communalism and fundamentalism.

''We wll never compromise on our secular princiles,'' she asserted.

''We are only against violence and terrorism. Mahatma Gandhi's leadership during the Independece struggle and its success has shown us the possibility of peace as a means for political gain,'' Ms Gandhi said.

Ms Gandhi said India had always been wary of compromising on its sovereignty and the Congress and its leaders have tried to ensure that its principled commitment to democracy and a multilateral world order is maintained. ''Those who accuse the Manmohan Singh Government of discarding India's independent foreign policy need to look carefully at the enormous gains our new and equal relationship with America will bring to our scientific, technical, agricultural and trade sectors,'' she said.

''For India to meet the needs of employment creation and infrastructure, we need to integrate ourselves in the growing sectors of the world economy, the sectors that will power the service sector, where India has already an edge, ''she observed.

''This can only be done if we also have equal access to the achievements of scientific gains being made worldwide,'' she pointed out.

Hailing the nuclear deal with the US, the Congress President said the Prime Minister and his team had worked ''in the most positive atmosphere'' with President Bush and his team and had ensured that India did not compromise on national interests in signing this deal.''India has gained enormously,'' she added.

''India is indeed proud of her atmoic scientists who have persevered to maintain our nuclear programme despite facing great odds,'' she said.

''Today, we will be even prouder when they take their place as equals among the world's nuclear scientists and gain from vibrant academic and scientific exchanges at the international level,'' she said.

UNI

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