Stripping of portfolio disagreeable: Natwar

New Delhi, Nov 16 | Updated: Nov 17 2005, 05:30am hrs
Nine days after he lost the key external affairs ministry portfolio, K Natwar Singh on Wednesday termed the action as disagreeable but agreed with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi that the government should get to the bottom of allegations made in the Volcker report regarding payoffs in Iraqi oil deals.

It (relieving of his portfolio) is disagreeable, he said and added that there was no substance in the allegations that he and the Congress party were beneficiaries in the payoffs made during the Saddam Hussein regime in 2001.

Addressing the Hindustan Times leadership summit, the minister brushed aside suggestions that his exit from the ministry was hastened because of his anti-American remarks on Iran and Iraq. Mr Singh said he favoured the closest of relations between India and the US.

He stuck to his controversial remarks that if a stronger resolution was tabled at the, November 24, IAEA meeting in Vienna on Irans nuclear issue the government must take a very careful look as any move would create a very big mess.

He said there must be a consensus on resolving the issue within the IAEA framework.

Shortly before he was relieved of his portfolio, Mr Singh had created a stir by saying that if a resolution is placed at the IAEA which is more severe than the last one which says that this matter must go to the UN Security Council, I can as foreign minister of India tell you that my recommendation to the government will be to revise our vote.

PTI