Although India wanted peace and stability to return to Arab countries, its “basic proposition” was that it would not offer unsolicited advice. The government's immediate focus and attention was on bringing back Indians who wanted to return from countries in turmoil, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told journalists while returning from a three-day visit to Kuwait.

India would be willing to assist in institution building since it shared a certain comfort level with these countries. But “it would not be fair for India to jump into the fray” unless it was invited, said Mr. Krishna on being asked whether India, with its “proven track record'' of having nurtured a liberal democracy, would be willing to help Arab countries in this regard.

“Let us be very cautious in reacting to whatever is happening in Libya. The basic proposition has been spelt out with clarity. We do not interfere. But we are closely monitoring the situation. Our immediate concern is to see that those Indians who are eager to come out of Libya are facilitated by the Government of India,” Mr. Krishna said.

India's position in this regard was also articulated during the United Nations Security Council meeting, which approved sanctions against Libya.

China also made a similar pitch.

India, along with China and Russia, limited its criticism of the regime, with India's Permanent Representative at the U.N. Hardeep Puri reiterating previous Foreign Office statements that “deplored” the violence and expressed “serious concern” over the situation. In contrast, U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon called the situation a clear-cut violation of human rights.

Necessity for change

Mr. Krishna, who was in Kuwait to attend the 50th Independence Day and 20th Liberation Day celebrations, said: “I conveyed to the Arab leadership the necessity for some change to adjust to the rising aspirations of the people. I wish them well in their attempt to come to a meeting point between stability and aspirations.”

At the celebrations in Kuwait, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was also a guest but, according to Mr. Krishna, their “paths did not cross.” Although the leaders spent a major part of their time travelling to the venue, Mr. Krishna was able to briefly interact with some leaders from the Arab world, besides Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.

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