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External Affairs Minister Shri Natwar Singh's intervention at the International Conference on Iraq in Brussels

June 22, 2005

Mr. Javier Solana, EU High Representative,

Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State of the United States of America, 

Excellencies, 

The European Union, its Presidency and the Government of United States deserve our appreciation for hosting and organizing this International Conference on Iraq and for the meticulous arrangements they have made for ensuring the success of the Conference. 

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, Prime Minister of Iraq and his colleagues also deserve our congratulations for their detailed presentation of the developments that have taken place in Iraq. They have analyzed the challenges that their government faces and the steps that it is taking for political and economic reconstruction of the country. On behalf of India, I wish all success for these efforts. 

We in India have been closely following recent political developments in Iraq. The restoration of sovereignty to the Iraqi people is essential for the establishment of peace and stability in the country. In this context, the holding of elections in Iraq on January 30, 2005, was a noteworthy and encouraging development. The United Nations played a useful supporting role in that process. India has welcomed the formation of the Transitional Government in Iraq headed by Prime Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. Soon after its confirmation by the elected Transitional National Assembly, the Prime Minister of India sent his Special Envoy, Ambassador Chinmaya Gharekhan, to Baghdad, with a message of solidarity and support to Prime Minister Jaafari. He also met several Ministers and conveyed to them our support to the democratic process and to democratic forces in Iraq and our commitment in assisting in the reconstruction of Iraq. 

India would like to see a stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and democratic Iraq. Our Prime Minister has conveyed to Prime Minister Jaafari that Iraq could, if it wished, draw upon India's experience in drafting a Constitution for its multi-cultural society. Our own experience as a multi-cultural and multi-religious democracy is that Constitution-drafting is a critically important process that needs to be inclusive in order to ensure its wide acceptance and long-term legitimacy. 

India has civilizational relationship with Iraq and traditionally strong ties of friendship with Iraq and its people. We have been deeply distressed at the sufferings of the people of Iraq, especially for the past many years. What Iraq most needs today is security and stability. We condemn the actions of disruptive forces in Iraq and the activities of terrorist elements. Once the security situation improves, Iraq will quickly march on the road to its prosperity. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate India's continued commitment to provide assistance to the people of Iraq in their humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. India has committed a total of USD 30 million in assistance, USD 10 million through the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) and US D 20 million bilaterally. We are providing assistance for human resource development, provision of certain commodities as well as social sector projects in keeping with Iraq's requirements. We stand ready to cooperate with Iraq in providing assistance in capacity building, for security management, as well as for its energy sector. 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I hope this Conference will pave the way towards rededication of international efforts towards assisting Iraq in its political and economic reconstruction. I would also like to take this opportunity to once again convey the best wishes of the people and Government of India to the people and Government of Iraq for their success in this endeavour. 

Thank You.