- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

NEW DELHI, Feb. 15 (UPI) — India's government said Saturday it will not support any U.S.-led attack on Iraq without the approval first of the United Nations, adding it would be "inconceivable" the United States should act as long as U.N. inspectors in Iraq find no weapons of mass destruction.

"It would be inconceivable that the U.S. should take any action after what has been submitted to the U.N. Security Council yesterday by all those who were concerned with the search and also by the stand that has been taken by the members of the Security Council like France, Germany, Russia and China and other countries that have been associated with this opposition (to war)," Defense Minister George Fernandes told the Press Trust of India news agency in the southern city of Bangalore.

"It is an obvious situation where Iraq has been found to be without any weapons of mass destruction," the PTI quoted Indian defense minister as saying. "How can India support… (the United States against Iraq)?"

New Delhi has maintained the Iraq issue must be resolved amicably.

India is home to the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia and it still has an Iraqi embassy in the capital, New Delhi. The government's decision to allow U.S. airplanes to refuel at Indian facilities during the 1991 Persian Gulf War caused domestic political turmoil.

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