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US differs but understands India's policy on Iran: Blake

world Updated: Jun 09, 2010 10:46 IST
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A top Obama Administration official said today that US and India understands each other's policy and concerns on Iran despite differences on the issue, even as he praised New Delhi's strong stand against Tehran's nuke programme at IAEA.

"I think we have come to quite a good understanding of where each other stands on this very, very important issue for both of us," the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, said in response to a question in his appearance at a State Department Blog Forum.

"This was a subject of conversation during the Strategic Dialogue but has also been a continuing part of our conversation in every meeting that we have with our Indian friends," he said.

From our perspective, the most important thing has been India's strong support in, first, observing all of the UN Security Council obligations, but also the very important votes that it has taken in the IAEA taking a strong stand against Iran's nuclear weapons program, Blake said.

"India has explained to us that it has important links with Iran, first of all because its transit into Afghanistan is closed by Pakistan so it must use Iran to get many of its goods, and indeed people, into Afghanistan through Iran.

So that's a very important part of their relations," he observed.

"The Indians also have a small but influential Shia community inside India, which can be an important swing vote in Indian elections. So they do have these civilisational ties that they talk about," he noted.

So I think we understand the interest that India has in Iran, but we also go to great lengths to explain our concerns and to make sure that, again, we're not crossing any of each other's red lines, he added.

"And so far, I think we've managed that conversation pretty well. But again, this is going to be a continuing very important priority for the United States," Blake said.

The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said at the Council on Foreign Relations - a Washington-based think-tank -that India does not support the nuclear weapon ambitions of Iran.

"Iran is a signatory to the NPT. As such, it has all the rights that got with this membership of the NPT, that is use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," he said.

At the same time, it has obligations that go with its membership, and this rules out the nuclear weapon part. So there is no ambiguity in our position. They're quite clear in our thinking that Iran should not go the nuclear weapon path.

"That is inconsistent with its obligation as a member of the NPT," he said.