Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Busy Prime Minister

Indian PM Manmohan Singh has been busy globetrotting this week.

On Monday he was in France, where he met with Jacques Chirac and discussed the transfer of civilian nuclear technology, and Singh and Chirac issued a joint statement. Singh missed out on meeting with the Indian expatriate community there, for lack of time apparently.

No word on whether the Hijab-turban ban was discussed.

In New York, Singh has met with American CEOs, George Bush, and Pervez Musharraf.

Singh has promised to bring down tariffs, to encourage Foreign Direct Investment in the sphere of infrastructure.

The Deccan Herald has reported that Bush was trying to pressure Singh to accept the U.S. line on Iran's nuclear program, but I find the whole premise of the article a bit shaky. Why would Bush care about India on this front, when it is not on the Security Council?

The dinner with Musharraf was probably the most important thing Singh has done this week. From Express India, it seems like the meeting went quite well, though beyond the predictable joint statement (not to "allow terrorism to impede the peace process"), I'm not sure what's really come out of it. Still, all these top-level meetings (three this year alone) have to be good signs for long-term India-Pakistan peace (assuming that 'Mush' stays in power, that is).

In this self-consciously tabloid account of the meeting from the Hindustan Times, there is the suspicion that something is being talked about that isn't getting made public yet. Meanwhile, the Times of India has a highly idiosyncratic account of the meeting as a "deadlock wrapped in a logjam." It is, as most Times of India articles tend to be, pure speculation, and anyway, unlikely: if these guys really can't work with each other, why meet every three months?

(Still, I'm waiting for the big announcement. Aren't you? Hm, maybe the TOI has a point.)

Finally, Manmohan Singh also spoke in support of the newly-created United Nations Democracy Fund, which is going to non-coercively help countries around the world build democratic institutions. Seems nice, though I must say this new fund smells a little like the Bush Administration's usual "democracy talk."

A busy week, isn't it? And I haven't even talked about everything else associated with the UN General Assembly, a huge, event of global significance that has (perhaps unsurprisingly) received little media coverage here in the U.S. this week. The big news at the UN seems to be the organization's failure to push through necessary reforms. Ouch.


Kumar said...

Dr. Singh:

On Iran--America wants India, which sits on the IAEA board, to refer Iran's case to the Security Council in an upcoming vote. FWIW, I think India should abstain, at a minimum, if not actively vote to refer it to the Security Council. As Nitin Pai has written, India should loft it to the Security Council and let Russia and China take the heat.

On Pakistan--The pessimistic reading of the meeting with the General is simply due to the Indian press falling for its own hype about a 'significant' meeting. For my part, I found it reassuring that the PM did not feel the need to feed the 'peace lobby' in India and elsewhere. I hope he maintains course.


9:40 PM  

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