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07-14-03, 04:18 PM
U.S. Chides India for Iraq Troop Snub

Monday July 14, 2003 9:29 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration criticized India on Monday for deciding not to send peacekeepers to Iraq but said the South Asian nation remains important to the United States.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, ``We would have hoped that India would have made a different choice, that they would be able to do this in Iraq for our interests and what we perceive to be their interests.''

Despite the decision, Boucher said, India ``remains an important strategic partner for the United States.''

The United States had been counting on India, Bangladesh and Pakistan among other countries to send peacekeepers to Iraq to give the U.S. presence a more international look. In officially rejecting the idea on Monday, the Indian government said it would consider such a deployment only under mandate of the United Nations.

Boucher said he did not know the status of the requests for Pakistani and Bangladeshi participation.

The U.S. request for peacekeeping troops came during a visit to Washington last month by India's deputy prime minister, Lal Krishna Advani. A team of U.S. defense officials visited New Delhi to discuss arrangements.

Boucher said a ``substantial number'' of countries want to participate in peacekeeping in Iraq, such as NATO members Poland and Spain.

He said U.N. Security Council resolution 1483 encourages all countries to participate in stabilizing Iraq after the U.S.-led war, and some council members may want to look again at language in the measure before deciding to help.