NATIONAL

Britain backs India's case for Security Council seat

LONDON OCT. 31. Britain today came out strongly in support of India's candidature for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in what was seen as by far the most explicit British commitment on the issue.

Speaking to reporters here this evening after talks with his Indian counterpart, Yashwant Sinha, the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, highlighted the strength of New Delhi's case saying London believed that "India should join the U.N. Security Council, with Germany and Japan.''

Even as observers said he was simply reiterating the changed British position, first reflected in the Delhi Declaration signed by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, the Indian officials hailed Mr. Straw's remarks for their "positive'' tone. Prior to the Delhi Declaration, Britain's line was that India was a "legitimate contender'' for a permanent place on the Security Council but it was for the Asian countries to select a regional representative.

"This has now changed to full support for Indian claim — there is a significant change of nuance,'' an Indian diplomat said. Mr. Sinha went to some lengths to thank Mr. Straw for his country's support.

Another issue which figured during the discussions, which lasted more than an hour, related to the controversial � one billion Hawk deal for which Britain has been lobbying. Mr. Straw defended his Government's support for the deal which has been attacked by the Labour MPs and others.

Mr. Straw, however, maintained that it was a "very good time'' to sell Hawks to India, and said though a final decision rested with the BAe systems and the Indian Government, the British Government was "very happy'' to support the deal.

Mr. Straw said he had a wide range of discussions with Mr. Sinha, both on bilateral and international issues. He described the conduct and outcome of the Kashmir elections in "very difficult'' circumstances as proof of the "vibrancy'' of Indian democracy. But he hastened to add that "we are determined that the relationship between our two countries are not defined by Kashmir.''

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