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India plays neutral in Tehran-West battle

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 16, 2012
First Published: 00:51 IST(16/2/2012) | Last Updated: 00:53 IST(16/2/2012)

As pressure mounts for the isolation of Iran for its nuclear programme and the attack on Israeli embassy personnel in Delhi, India is doing a fine balancing act in maintaining its ties with the Islamic republic.


New Delhi has opposed the proliferation of nuclear weapons in West Asia but it wants to continue its friendly ties with Tehran for oil and much more.

India has to factor in the reality that Iran, a “near neighbour”, is its only surface access route to Afghanistan and central Asia. Besides, six million Indians work in Iran and countries around it, official sources said.

But because India has close ties with the US and Israel — at the forefront of the call to isolate Iran — India believes in giving “maximum scope” for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

Regarding the attack on its embassy personnel in Delhi on Monday, Israel kept up the pressure on India, stressing its “conviction” that Tehran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah were behind it. But India has maintained it has no evidence to point to Iran’s involvement.

“We have no individual, no entity, no organisation or no country to pinpoint,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday as the Israeli ambassador to India Alon Ushpiz met with external affairs minister S M Krishna.

Reacting to Israel’s charges, Iran’s envoy to India Mehdi Nabizadeh said, “We are not accepting or denying it. It (the attack) happened in India. If Indian security says something, then we will have to verify it. We hope India will verify the case to know the real position.”

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