India's foreign minister says his country has not ruled out sending troops to aid international efforts in Iraq, but he says several steps must be taken before such a deployment can take place.

Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha says India cannot begin to consider sending troops to Iraq without a mandate from the United Nations. Mr. Sinha spoke on CNN's Late Edition program, saying "there must be a U.N. mandate for sending multi-national troops to Iraq with clearly defined responsibilities. I believe that a Security Council resolution is under discussion. We are keenly watching the developments."

Even with a mandate, however, the foreign minister said he could not guarantee that Indian troops would be sent to Iraq, only that his country would be in a position to, as he put it, "consider" the matter.

Mr. Sinha said India would have to evaluate its own security needs and whether soldiers could be spared from their duties at home.

Earlier on Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said there is broad agreement in the international community about the need to aid and stabilize Iraq, but he also said the United States had abandoned expectations that India might send troops to Iraq.