Need Syria-led solution to conflict: PM


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that while India supported "popular aspirations" in West Asia and North Africa, it was against such changes being "prompted by external intervention".

Singh called for a Syria-led process to resolve the worsening situation in that country.

Singh spoke soon after the Syrian delegation walked out in protest against Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi's statement that the Egyptian revolution was the "cornerstone" of the Arab Spring, and after Libya and Yemen, the "revolution (was) in Syria against its oppressive regime".

At the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, Singh said: "As the world's largest democracy, India supports popular aspirations for a democratic and pluralistic order. Nevertheless, such transformations cannot be prompted by external intervention, which exacerbate the suffering of ordinary citizens. The deteriorating situation in Syria is a matter of particular concern."

The PM called for NAM to take a stand "keeping in mind universally accepted principles", and urged a peaceful resolution of the crisis through "a Syrian-led inclusive political process that can meet the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian citizens".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged NAM member states to help strengthen democratic institutions and to not arm either side in the conflict. "Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Syrian government to listen to the aspirations of its people find a resolution," Ban said.

Morsi, the first Egyptian president to visit Iran after 1979, has been pushing for a group comprising Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to negotiate a settlement with Assad's government. Following Syria's protest on Thursday, however, it is unclear what this so-called 'Tehran Initiative' might be able to achieve.

India does not see the summit as an occasion to resolve the Syrian issue. Senior sources in the government said that despite the fiery speeches by its leaders, Iran too is not trying to alter settled formulations in the NAM outcome document. India's understanding is that Iran is more keen to project solidarity on Syria than to provoke differences that might threaten the successful conclusion of the summit.

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