Upset over arms treaty, India may cancel its delegation to UK

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by nrj, Apr 8, 2013.

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    NEW DELHI: Stung by the UK's reluctance to accommodate its concerns in the negotiations for the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) approved by the UN General Assembly last Tuesday, the government has decided to send a strong message of its displeasure to the UK.

    A high level defence delegation's visit to the UK slated for April 9-11 could either be cancelled or significantly scaled down as a mark of protest, TOI has learnt. Defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was to lead the delegation comprising representatives of all three services.

    The UK has been one of the champions of ATT and New Delhi holds it responsible for the fact that hardly any of India's concerns were accommodated in the agreement. India had abstained from voting on the treaty saying the draft was weak on terrorism and non-state actors and compromised security and defence interests of major arms importing countries.

    Intense consultations are underway in the government on the future course of action since Tuesday's vote, in which the treaty was passed with 154 votes in favour, three against and 23 abstentions. India, China and Russia were among the countries that abstained.

    In fact, TOI has learnt that the external affairs ministry has conveyed to the UK that its unhelpful attitude will have serious consequences for defence purchases by India from that country. Even during the negotiations for the treaty, India seems to have warned the UK that defence cooperation between the two countries was going to suffer.

    Top sources confirmed to TOI that the MEA was not in favour of cancellation of the visit and had told the defence ministry in writing to communicate India's unhappiness but wanted the engagement to continue.

    Sources said the defence ministry had sought the MEA's opinion before deciding on the trip. The foreign ministry, which had warned UK of adverse consequences, wanted the defence ministry to make a strong statement but not by cancelling the trip as this could lead to avoidable rancour in relations. While France too was among the 154 nations which voted in favour of ATT at the UNGA, it was very supportive of India's concerns during the negotiations.

    Over the last week, consultations were underway between the PMO, MEA and the MoD over the steps to be taken to convey India's extreme displeasure over UK's lead role in pushing through the treaty. It is not yet clear if the government is contemplating any further steps to convey its disappointment.

    British PM David Cameron welcomed the ATT saying Britain should be proud of its role in the negotiations. Britain was also the leading country behind the move to put the draft treaty to vote in the UNGA.

    India's lead negotiator Sujata Mehta had argued that the treaty was weak on terrorism and non-state actors and those concerns found no mention in the specific provisions of the treaty. "India cannot accept that the treaty be used as an instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states without consequences. The relevant provisions in the final text do not meet our requirements," she had said.

    India believes that the treaty should make a real impact on illicit trafficking in conventional arms and their illegal use, especially by terrorists. While New Delhi's concern was about terrorists targeting the Indian state, the US and the UK ensured a flexible language in this context so that they could continue to arm rebels in states such as Syria.

    India also feels strongly that the treaty is heavily weighed in favour of arms exporters, who can invoke unforeseen circumstances to cancel a contract.

    Upset over arms treaty, India may cancel its delegation to UK - The Times of India
     
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