Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said that the United States and Britain had made a mistake in attacking Iraq and urged the UN Security Council to take the initiative to end the war.
The US and British "calculations have gone seriously wrong," Sinha said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with AFP.
Members of the Committee Against War on Iraq, comprised of political activists, educators, artists and members of the public, demonstrate against the U.S.-led war in Iraq in New Delhi, India, Monday, March 31, 2003. (AP Photo/Gautam Singh)
"It's not merely in terms of military resistance that the Iraqi army was likely to offer but also the mood of the people of Iraq.
"I don't know on what they had based their calculations but what one knows from experience now of 14 days that it was a serious miscalculation."
The military action did not have the sanction of the United Nations and most countries were opposed to it, he said.
"If you look at it from both points of view, namely the opposition to the war before and after the war, if you look at the miscalculations of this war, the only conclusion one can come to is that it is a mistake."
When asked whether India was willing to call for a ceasefire, Sinha said New Delhi was in touch with the United Nations and various governments on the issue.
"It is not merely a question of exhortation it is also a question of the methodology through which it is done... the only methodology... is with the United Nations Security Council.
"Therefore it is incumbent on the current members of the Security Council to take the initiative and perhaps pass a resolution to bring the hostilities to an end."
But he said he believed that neither the pro-war countries nor the anti-war lobby had a majority in the Security Council.
"My own feeling is that just as the pro-war lobby did not have a majority in the United Nations Security Council, the anti-war lobby also perhaps does not have the confidence of a majority and that is why those moves are not being made," the minister said.
India had repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis through the United Nations.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said the war lacks justification, but opposition leaders have called for a stronger reaction from the Indian government.
On Wednesday, Sinha said there were no differences between the government and the opposition parties on the US-led war on Iraq.
"There is no difference between us and the opposition with regard to the basic approach. The difference is only with regard to the language in which the basic approach has to be expressed," he said.
Earlier this week, Defence Minister George Fernandes warned of "great consequences" of the unilateral decision of the United States and its allies to wage war against Iraq without broad international backing.
"This unilateralism can have great consequences in times to come... who will have to face what, time will tell," Fernandes said, dismissing talk of reconstructing post-war Iraq as "cynical."
Since the launch of the US-led strikes, most major Indian cities have witnessed almost daily anti-war protests.
Opinion polls conducted before and after the launch of of the military strikes show a majority of the public are also opposed to the war.
© Copyright 2003 AFP