Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 16:17 UK

Key Indian ministers appointed

S M Krishna, holding flowers, meets his new staff
S M Krishna takes office during heightened tensions with Pakistan

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced key cabinet positions in his new government.

The outgoing Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, becomes finance minister, charged with steering India through the economic downturn.

SM Krishna, the former chief minister of Karnataka state, becomes foreign minister, at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan.

Mr Singh and a 19-member cabinet were sworn in yesterday.

The Congress Party won a decisive mandate in the recent general election. Congress and its allies have 262 seats in parliament, compared with 158 held by the BJP-led alliance.

Stumbling block

In a news conference, Mr Krishna - aged 77 and a Congress Party veteran - said he was ready to reach out to to Pakistan.

But he added: "Pakistan should take determined and credible action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism that is operating from its territory. That has been a stumbling block."

Mr Mukherjee, 73, has held several senior cabinet positions in the past, including that of defence minister. He has already pledged to return India to its former high rate of economic growth.

Two ministers retain their portfolios. AK Anthony stays in charge of the defence ministry, and Palaniappan Chidambaram continues as Home Minister.

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