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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Hindu group demands WTO pullout
Hindu militants protesting after being arrested
Hindu militants protest after being arrested
India should pull out of the World Trade Organisation if the current talks do not produce the results developing countries want, a hardline Hindu group close to the ruling coalition has said.

Talks in Montreal aimed at finalising the agenda for key negotiations in Mexico in September have just wrapped up without agreement on key issues including the opening up of agriculture.

Now the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), a group with about 15 million members - and one of a number of Hindu groups allied to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - says that is not good enough.

It is planning a mass protest outside parliament in Delhi on 3 September to pressure the government into threatening a pullout.

The Doha Round needs fewer items. It needs development-oriented items. It needs doable items
Arun Shourie
Privatisation minister
"It is time for the WTO to mend itself or become acceptable to all developing countries," said SJP leader Muralidhar Rao at a news conference in the southern hi-tech centre of Bangalore.

The refusal of richer countries to open their markets significantly while demanding market access for their own exports, and limitations on the movement of labour, were among the key sticking points, he said.

Holding the line

India has for some time been a leader among developing countries pushing for a fairer deal from trade talks.

Its trade minister, Murasoli Maran, was one of the prime movers in getting the last big WTO meeting - in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001 - to commit to making the current round of talks a "development agenda".

In the meeting which concluded on Thursday in Montreal, privatisation minister Arun Shourie said India and China, as home to almost half the world's population, would push to keep the agenda limited to development issues.

"The Doha Round needs fewer items," he told the Reuters news agency.

"It needs development-oriented items. It needs doable items."

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