Krishna reads Portuguese minister’s speech at UN, ministry downplays gaffe

Saturday, February 12, 2011

UNITED NATIONS - In a public gaffe, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna inadvertently read out the speech of his Portuguese counterpart at a UN Security Council meeting here, but quickly corrected it after India’s chief diplomat at the UN pointed it out to him.

Krishna read out Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado’s speech for full three minutes at a debate on security and development Friday before India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri pointed it out.

The initial part of the Portuguese minister’s speech related to general issues about the UN, development and security.

Finally, it took a reference to Portuguese-speaking countries to alert Puri, a former ambassador to Brazil, that something was amiss.

“On a more personal note, allow me to express my profound satisfaction regarding the happy coincidence of having two members of the Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), Brazil and Portugal, together here today,” Krishna had said, reading verbatim from the initial portion of the Portuguese minster’s speech.

Krishna, said officials, could have said this as Brazil holds the current presidency of the Security Council.

The external affairs ministry, however, downplayed the faux pas, saying the the initial parts of all formal addresses contain salutation and courteous references.

“While addressing the UNSC yesterday (Friday), the external affairs minister used such expressions from the address of the previous speaker before moving to his prepared text for substantive remarks, Vishnu Prakash, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, said.

The minister went on to make a well-received statement where he highlighted the relevance of the Indian success story to international efforts to meet the challenges of development, peace and security, the spokesperson said.

In an important speech, Krishna called for a reform of the international structure for maintaining peace and security and peace-building and offered Indian expertise for the global community.

“Global power and the capacities to address problems are much more dispersed than they were six decades ago. The current framework must address these realities, Krishna said at the UN Security Council for the first time since India became a non-permanent member of the top UN decision making body.

However, the official explanation did not cut much ice with chief opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which said the faux pas had embarrassed India at an international forum.

“This is bound to happen when we have people who read speeches rather then deliver them, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said here.

Sitharaman added that Krishna’s gaffe has embarrassed India at an international forum.

“Today, the level of incompetence has reached to its optimum,” she said

Filed under: Diplomacy

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