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India's concern over violation of norms in Iraq

By Our Diplomatic Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JULY 7. The Congress-led Government has expressed concern at the violation of international conventions and norms by some members of the United States security forces in "dealing with Iraqi people."

The Minister of State for External Affairs, E. Ahamed, informed the Lok Sabha today that the Government had also taken note of the "punitive and preventive" measures taken by the U.S. Government in this regard.

"The Government has also noted with concern the violation of the sanctity of holy places in Iraq and has emphasised the imperative need to respect the sanctity of the places of religious worship by all concerned in Iraq," he said in a written response.

In a separate statement on foreign policy priorities, Mr. Ahamed said India remained fully committed to the peace process with Pakistan. "The commitment has been reaffirmed and infused with greater substance following the External Affairs Minister's recent meetings with his Pakistani counterpart in Qingdao and Jakarta, as also during the Foreign Secretary level talks held in June..."

On Sri Lanka, the Minister of State said India would welcome a resolution of the current impasse in the peace process and an early resumption of negotiations. "Any interim arrangement should be an integral part of the final settlement and should be within the framework of the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka," Mr. Ahamed said.

"The Government continues to fully support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. The relationship with Israel, which is being developed on the basis of mutually beneficial cooperation in no way dilutes India's principled support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people," Mr. Ahamed said.

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