New Delhi: SM Krishna, who resigned as External Affairs Minister, on Saturday said it was "time up" for him to make way for younger blood and appeared to keep his options open on playing a role in Karnataka politics.

"...the flavour of the season is that youngsters must take over the reins of responsibility and I felt that it was time up for me to make way for younger blood to take over. I am glad that this initiative has been by and large appreciated," he told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a day after he quit the government.

Asked whether it was the Prime Minister or he himself who decided to step down as Union Minister, Krishna said, "The decision came from within. And my wife had a major role to play in the decision making."

He also said that his decision to make way for younger blood does not denigrate the importance of experience.

"This in no way denigrates the importance of experience. I think experience is an important attribute. And particularly in pursuing the foreign relations with other countries there has to be patience and patience abundantly and also perseverance," he said.

Asked about his statement that his resignation does not denigrate experience and whether he would play a role for the party in Karnataka where assembly elections are due next year, he said, "Well, I said youngsters should lead. And then we are there to support the youngsters in their efforts to forge ahead."

To a suggestion that his stint in the MEA was short, the former Karnataka Chief Minister said his tenure was for a "respectable" period.

Krishna said he had also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi who appreciated his work as the External Affairs Minister. "She wanted me to continue in whatever I am going to do as member of Parliament," he said.

On his tenure in the Ministry, he said there has been an all-round improvement in India's relations both with its immediate neighbours and the immediate neighbourhood.

"Nobody can claim that all the issues have been resolved with our neighbours. But statesmanship lies in the fact that how well you manage those issues which seem to be confronting you all the time...whether it is in reference to China or Pakistan, I think the last three years has seen quite a bit of improvement in our relationship," Krishna said.

He said New Delhi had issues with China on border front but it did not affect the overall relationship that India has pursued to have with Beijing.

"It is the same case with Pakistan. I think under the direction of the Prime Minister, we took up the initiative and I made two trips to Islamabad and my counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar came to Delhi. That certainly did help improve the relationship between our two countries," he said.

He said Pakistan and China are two classic cases where Indian interests have always with theirs.     "But we have been able to manage with both the countries and today I can say with a sense of conviction that we have a manageable relationship with both the countries," he said.

He said there are "so many" regrets on what he was unable to do as External Affairs Minister. "Foreign affairs is not two plus two...such easy deductions are not possible but one should keep working towards that."

He said transparency is one issue on which he was a stickler to the irritation of his colleagues. He said transparency was an unstoppable trend in the light of whatever is happening around. "It is the only effective answer to those who criticise government."

He said in the field of Haj and passports, the ministry has achieved a lot by doing a "remarkable" work.

(Agencies)

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