India to withdraw helicopters from Congo mission
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 14:31
United Nations: India is preparing to withdraw its four remaining Mi-35 attack helicopters from the Democratic Republic of Congo early next month after expiry of its contract with the UN mission, a top Indian official here has said.

Manjeev Singh Puri, India's deputy ambassador to the UN said that India needed its helicopters. "The contract has ended," he said, adding, "We need them back for our own use".

Puri also underlined the need for "more consultation" with troop contributing countries about the mandate of peacekeeping missions, which were getting more "complicated".

The Indian official added that there had been "some movement on consultations" but it wasn't enough.

"Details define the ability to deliver," he said.

The Turtle Bay blog on the Foreign Policy website described the loss of helicopters as "depriving the UN of its most vital military asset as the country heads into a landmark presidential election".

"The Indian drawdown will deal a blow to the UN mission," the UN focused blog said, noting that France is about to introduce a resolution that calls for greater role of peacekeepers to protect civilians ahead of elections in DRC.

"India believes it is not accorded the respect it deserves on the world stage, and thinks its reputation has been tarnished in the Congo mission," it added.

Puri, however, insisted that India had already extended the helicopters to stay for a couple of extra months at the request of the UN.

He urged the UN to find the helicopters from other countries.

"Please source it from somewhere else," he said, citing South Africa and Ukraine as possibilities.

There are presently 19,995 uniformed personnel.

Among the South Asian countries troops have come from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal to the war-wracked Central African nation.


First Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 14:31

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