Left parties on Friday announced country-wide demonstrations and rallies on November 8, the day United States President Barack Obama has official engagements here. They have identified five issues that will be highlighted during the demonstrations.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat, however, told The Hindu that Left MPs would not boycott any joint session of Parliament that Mr. Obama would address.

Being the first African-American President, and coming after the neo-conservative Bush regime, there were expectations of positive changes from him. These, however, did not materialise, four Left parties said in a joint statement.

The U.S., as part of its global hegemonic designs, was pursuing policies that are inimical to the national sovereignty and interests of people of many countries. As far as India was concerned, the statement said, the U.S. was aggressively pressuring the Manmohan Singh government to adopt economic policies that were detrimental to people in the name of strategic alliance.

Contrary to the official view of the ruling establishment on the role being played by the U.S., both globally and with regard to India, the Left parties would like to convey the views of the vast masses of the country, it said.

The five issues that are to be highlighted during demonstrations are:

The U.S. should ensure justice for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy; make Dow Chemicals pay for the damages and clean up the factory site; and extradite the former Union Carbide chairman, Warren Anderson, to India to stand trial.It should stop pressuring India on foreign policy and to open up agriculture, retail trade, education and other services for American capital and multinational companies.

The India-U.S. Defence Framework Agreement, which seeks to convert India into a military ally, should be scrapped. The U.S. should also stop pressuring India to give up liability claims on its nuclear suppliers.

Washington should withdraw its remaining 50,000 U.S. troops from Iraq forthwith; have a political settlement in Afghanistan to establish an independent and neutral state; NATO forces should also be withdrawn immediately.

The U.S. should end its embargo on Cuba; stop all assistance to Israel till Tel Aviv vacates the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.

D. Raja's call

Meanwhile, representing the country at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Communist Party of India MP D. Raja, said India joins other nations in calling for an immediate end to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and supported the resolution move by Cuba.

In his address earlier this week, Mr. Raja highlighted the high cost people of Cuba were paying to source products, technology and services from countries located far way since the U.S. embargo denies access to its market, investment, technology, financial services and scientific, educational, cultural and sporting institutions. In recent years, the financial, food and energy crisis has made the impact of the embargo even more acute, he stressed.

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