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Statement by Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson on the commencement of military action in Iraq

New Delhi
March 20, 2003

It is with the deepest anguish that we have seen reports of the commencement of military action in Iraq.

India recognizes the full force and validity of the objective of the international community to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, which is set out in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, under chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. Recent weeks have seen serious divergence of opinion among members of the U.N. Security Council on action in respect of Iraq’s compliance with Resolution 1441. It is a matter of grave concern that continuing differences within the Security Council prevented a harmonization of the positions of its members, resulting in seriously impairing the authority of the U.N. system. The military action begun today thus lacks justification. It also appears from the various pronouncements of Dr. Hans Blix and Dr. Al Baradei that military action was avoidable.

We also have to pay special attention to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. We sincerely hope that the Iraqi people will not be subject to further hardships, sufferings, loss of lives and damage to property from an extended military operation. The international community must already begin large-scale effort to alleviate the human suffering. India will be ready to play its part in such an effort.

For more information, contact:
Sunil Lal, Counsellor (Press & Information) at (202) 939-7042