On the fiftieth anniversary of India's independence, the Socialist International held its first Council meeting in India on 10-11 November hosted by Janata Dal. Member parties from the region were joined by delegates and guests from all parts of the world (full list of participants). Addressing the meeting at its opening, Shri Inder Kumar Gujral, welcomed the strong international presence and reiterated his party's commitment to a new world order based on social democratic values. In his opening speech, SI President Pierre Mauroy underlined the importance of the meeting in Asia as a mark of the International's truly global nature and as testimony of the International's solidarity with social democrats from all continents.
The main theme of the meeting was 'Social Democracy and Asia Today: Developing Common Policies for Global Change' and after a wide-ranging debate the Council approved a resolution which addressed the current realities in today's Asia, particularly in the era of globalisation. A special resolution on Burma was also adopted.
The Council also addressed the pressing issues of the current situation in the Middle East. Bjørn Tore Godal, chair of SIMEC, introduced a debate and delegates passed a resolution after intensive and lengthy discussions. The deepening crisis in Algeria was also an urgent topic for the SI Council. Raimon Obiols, chair of the SI Mediterranean Committee, opened a debate during which the leader of the SI member party from Algeria spoke of the grave situation there. The Council passed a resolution in support of the Algerian people in their struggle for true democracy. Security matters were also addressed by the Council and Günter Verheugen, chair of SIPSAD, led the discussions. Resolutions were adopted on NATO's Enlargement and European Security Policy, Small Arms and Light Weapons Disarmament and Anti-Personnel Landmines.
During the second day of the meeting, Secretary General Luis Ayala presented his report to the Council on the International's work since the last Council meeting and the proposed schedule of work for the coming period. It was agreed that the next Council meeting would be held on 18-19 May 1998 in Oslo, Norway.