India vows to stand by Saddam Hussein

Nov. 28, 2002 at 3:01 PM
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NEW DELHI, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- India will not let down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the event of a U.S.-led military attack, Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said Thursday.

Sinha told lawmakers in Parliament's upper house that Saddam has been a friend of India and should not feel let down when he is under pressure.

However, he also urged Baghdad to comply with the U.N. inspection of weapons of mass destruction, adding that any action against Iraq must be under the auspices of the United Nations and that efforts should be made to resolve issues peacefully.

Sinha said that if U.N. weapons inspectors are unable to find evidence against Baghdad, all the sanctions that have been imposed against Iraq since 1990 immediately should be lifted.

"Let us not allow emotions to overtake our stand and responsibility and let national interest and idealism, which have been the two pillars of our foreign policy, give expression to our position," Sinha said.

"Any military conflict will be disastrous from our point of view and we do not want a situation like the one we faced in 1991 after the Gulf War," he added.

Several Indian lawmakers said that the country must play an active role to defuse tension between Iraq and the United States, as any military conflict will bring economic hardships in the region.

However, like Sinha, Indian lawmakers asked Iraq to abide by the U.N. resolutions to allow weapons inspectors.

More than 3.5 million people of Indian Diaspora live in the Gulf region.

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