06 March 2004

India, Brazil, S Africa bloc forges ahead

6 March 2004
The Times of India

India, Brazil, S Africa bloc forges ahead


NEW DELHI: Describing their emerging partnership as "not just historic but irreversible", India, Brazil and South Africa resolved on Friday to act in concert at all multilateral forums like the UN and the WTO with the aim of advancing an alternative perspective on world affairs.

In a gentle foretaste of what might be in store, their joint statement struck a contrarian note on Washington's approach to the question of WMDs.

The three countries expressed their unhappiness with "serious inadequacies" in "the implementation of and compliance with" both the non-proliferation and disarmament commitments of countries, as much a reference to NPT signatories like Iran and Libya that had clandestine nuclear programmes as to the US, which continues to refine its nuclear arsenal even though the NPT commits it to disarmament.

Speaking to reporters here at the end of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Commission meeting, the foreign ministers of the three countries unveiled an ambitious programme of cooperation that they described as "a shining example of South-South cooperation".

Asked how IBSA looked at the recent set of non-proliferation proposals unveiled by US president - including the controversial Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) - in the light of their stated commitment to multilateralism, Sinha quoted from the joint declaration.

The three countries, he said, wanted questions of non-proliferation and disarmament to be "redressed through appropriate forward looking multilateral actions". He said IBSA would "intensify their cooperation at the IAEA and other forums to ensure unimpeded growth and development of peaceful use of atomic energy under appropriate safeguards".

The 'New Delhi Agenda for Cooperation and Plan of Action', signed by external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim and South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, envisages cooperation in fields like health, IT and civil aviation to defence.

Amorim also hailed the decision of industrialists and entrepreneurs - meeting under the aegis of Ficci and CII - to launch a trilateral business forum to facilitate linkages between the private sector in the three countries.

The three countries will work towards the "early reform of the UN to make it more democratic" and have agreed to back each other for permanent seats on a reformed Security Council.

Dlamini-Zuma, however, added the caveat that South Africa would be a candidate only in the context of consensus in Africa. If the African bloc came up with a different name, she hoped India and Brazil would support them.

This para was not there as a formality, said Amorim. "We could make a difference. We could help the Quartet get the roadmap implemented", a reference to the stalled efforts of the UN, the US, Russia, and the EU to get the Israelis to agree to a durable peace with an independent Palestinian state.

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