India offered help to Libya in political transition

New Delhi, Feb 8: India has conveyed its readiness to extend all possible assistance to Libya in its political transition and reconstruction and offered humanitarian assistance to the tune of $2 million, a top official said here Friday.

Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, Secretary (Economic Relations) of the external affairs ministry, said this while addressing a conference here Friday on The Maghreb and India.

He also said the new Libyan leadership, including Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, president of the General National Congress of Libya and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan are “familiar with India” having served in the Libyan embassy here.

India has actively engaged with the new governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, said Chakravarty at the conference organized by the Society for Policy Studies (SPS) and the India International Centre here.

The West Asia North Africa (WANA) region, especially the Gulf countries, is of strategic importance to India, with six million Indians employed there and sending $35 billion of remittances back home and with trade worth $165 billion, said Chakravarty.

The region is also a major supplier of energy to India supplying “65 percent of India’s fossil fuel needs and also a major supplier of phosphates”. Therefore, peace and security in the region is vital, he added.

India’s policy and position in the UN Security Council is grounded in the view that “external interference with prescriptive solutions should be avoided”, he said.

Political transition is not easy for the countries affected by the Arab Spring. “Creating democratic institutions from virtually scratch will be a long process but not impossible,” he said and added that India has “tried to help wherever possible in places with election management”.

On Syria, he said: “We cannot ignore what is happening the prolonged conflict has caused considerable loss of lives and the continuing unrest has serious ramifications for the region..”

India’s voting in the UNSC “reflects our view that a Syrian-led political process should be supported and it is for the Syrian people to decide what leader they want”.

India has called for all sides to abjure violence, which has seen thousands killed since the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad’s rule. India has welcomed peace initiatives in Syria, including those by the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

He said the new opposition coalition in Syria, the Syrian National Council (SNC) reflects a “domination of Islamist groups” and added that the Syrian situation is “fraught with uncertainity”.

There seems to be a political gridlock in Syria”.

Despite the fresh wave of unrest sweeping Egypt and to some extent in Tunisia “there is once certainity – there is no going backwards”, he said.

IANS