Ahead of the Geneva-II talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war next month, India has offered $1 million and services of its experts to help in the destruction of Damascus’ chemical weapons arsenal.
India’s foreign office announced Dec. 3 that the Indian government has offered $ 1 million to the Trust Fund set up at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague for use in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and related facilities.
India has also offered the services of its experts, which could be used by the OPCW in the destruction verification activity as well as training slots for the personnel participating in the UN/OPCW mission for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
“India’s assistance to the OPCW is a concrete demonstration of India’s consistent position of support for the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapons world-wide,” the foreign office said in a statement.
India has enormous stakes in a peaceful negotiated end to the Syrian conflict, which is showing no signs of easing more than two years after the rebels launched an uprising to unseat the Bashar al-Assad government.
India has apprehensions that the Syrian conflict, if it is allowed to escalate, will adversely impact security of the entire West Asia/Middle East region, which is crucial for the country’s vital national interests. The Middle East accounts for accounts for over 70 per cent of India’s oil imports and is home to around 7 million-strong Indian diaspora which contributes around $40 billion in annual remittances.
Countdown to Geneva II
Amid attempts at regime change, India has consistently rooted for a broad-based inclusive national reconciliation process in Syria. There is a strong likelihood of India participating in the Geneva II conference in Switzerland, scheduled for January 22, which has been convened to broker an end to the Syrian civil war. “At long last and for the first time, the Syrian government and opposition will meet at the negotiation table rather than the battlefield,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. The conference, according to Mr Ban, aims at “the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities.”
Russia, Syria back bigger India role
Russia has supported India’s participation in this important initiative, which has the potential to end the sterile conflict that has plunged a vibrant secular country into partisan turmoil and mindless bloodletting.
Syria has rooted for an important role for India in finding a political solution in that country. This message was conveyed by Bouthaina Shaaban, media and political advisor to the Syrian presidency, during her talks with India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in New Delhi recently. “We want India and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to play an important role in the political process, convening Geneva II and finding a solution to the crisis,” Shaaban had said.
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