Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Shashi Tharoor, Sushma Swaraj ask about India in the Middle East in Lok Sabha

On Wednesday, parliament functioned for the first time since the winter session began. During the Question Hour, Congress member from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor asked a subtle question whether India was part of the strategic dialogue in the Middle East and whether India was doing something about it. He referred to the role being played by the Quartet -- US, European Union, Russia and the UN. It was too subtle a question and minister of state for external affairs E. A.Ahmed said the Gulf countries were very important to India because of historical and cultural relations over the centuries, and that 6 million Indians live in the Gulf countries. He said he has just come back from a tour of Palestine and Ramallah. Tharoor left it at that. Leader of Opposition and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj asked a question and wanted prime minister Manmohan Singh who was present to answer it. She referred to a speech that Singh delivered where he said that East Jerusalem should be the capital of the new state of Palestine, and she wanted to know whether there was a change in India's Middle East policy. Singh answered by not answering her question. He said that Middle East was very important for India and that India's policy changed as the situation changed in the region. He said that national securty adviser (Shiv Shankar Menon) had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.

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