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Powell's remark has repudiated Centre's claims: Congress

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 19. The Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) today demanded that the Vajpayee Government explain how it proposed to take up with the United States the latter's decision to accord a "major non-NATO ally" status to Pakistan.

The Congress said the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, should also tell the country whether the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had informed him about the decision when he was in India.

"If he did inform, then what was the response? If not, it is a matter of concern, for, as a friend, the U.S. was expected to be aware of India's sensitivities and concern," the party spokesman, Anand Sharma, said.

Gen. Powell's statement was a public repudiation of the "tall claims" made by the Vajpayee Government of being a "natural ally" of the U.S. in the war against terrorism, Mr. Sharma added.

The CPI(M) said Mr. Powell's statement was a reflection of the deep strategic and military relationship of the U.S. with Pakistan.

In a statement, the party politburo said the Vajpayee Government should explain what it proposed to do with its "much-vaunted" strategic relationship with the U.S. "Does it intend to continue with its unidimensional policy and hope to acquire a similar status as Pakistan, of a `major' ally of the United States?"

The party sought to know whether this would require acceding further to demands such as joining the Proliferation Security Initiative of the U.S. or enmeshing India in the National Missile Defence system.

"The Vajpayee Government has reduced India's foreign policy to that of a supplicant of the United States which is detrimental to India's national interest," the statement said.

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