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On the International Day of Non-Violence and the meetings of the External Affairs Minister in New York

New York
October 2, 2007

I: International Day of Non-Violence:

H.E. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance of India, addressed an informal plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly today, thus launching the commemoration of the first International Day of Non-Violence, which falls on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. H.E. Dr. Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, and H.E. Dr. N Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa also addressed the meeting. [The full text of H.E Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s statement has been released separately].

Thereafter, H.E. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister, chaired a Round Table meeting that focussed upon the contemporary relevance of the Gandhian method of non-violence in the current international context. H.E Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs, was also present on this occasion. The participants included UN Deputy-Secretary-General H.E Mrs. Asha Rose Migiro, and several other Heads of Delegations to the UN General Assembly. The panellists included eminent intellectuals, thinkers and Gandhians, such as Dr. Ahmed Kathrada, Prof. Amartya Sen, Dr. Ela Gandhi, Dr. Gene Sharp, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Prof. Johan Galtung, Prof. John Nash and Dr. Lia Diskin. The discussions were moderated by Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar. Subsequently, H.E. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi joined the Panelists and other dignitaries at lunch following the Round Table.

In the evening, H.E Mrs. Sonia Gandhi inaugurated a photographic exhibition entitled “Gandhi and Global Non-violent Awakening” at the UN premises. Separately, a documentary film entitled “Mahatma- The Great Soul” was screened at the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium at the UN Building. A Special Cancellation was also issued by the UN Postal Administration to mark the International Day of Non-violence. This cancellation will be used by the UN through the month of October 2007.

II: UN General Assembly:

On the margins of the General Assembly and the commemorative events to mark the first International Day of Non-Violence, the External Affairs Minister met H.E Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and H.E Dame Billie Miller, Foreign Minister of Barbados.

During EAM’s meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iran, the two leaders reviewed the historical and traditional bilateral relationship, and reviewed areas of bilateral cooperation. EAM and the Foreign Minister also reviewed the situation in Afghanistan. The two Ministers agreed that the bilateral Joint Commission should meet soon.

Later, at the meeting between EAM and the Foreign Minister of Barbados, the two reviewed the bilateral relationship, and agreed to find ways of increasing existing bilateral cooperation, in particular, technical cooperation in areas such as Information Technology.

The Minister’s last engagement in New York included an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS, after which he participated in the inauguration of the photographic exhibition, “Gandhi and Global non-violent awakening”, by H.E Mrs. Sonia Gandhi at the United Nations.

Following these engagements, EAM left New York for the United Kingdom.