US can't influence India-Iran ties: Iran | delhi | Hindustan Times
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US can't influence India-Iran ties: Iran

Reacting to India's growing ties with the US fuelled by their nuclear deal, Iran hopes that New Delhi would maintain an independent foreign policy.

delhi Updated: Nov 08, 2007 21:16 IST

Reacting to India's growing ties with the US fuelled by their nuclear deal, Iran on Thursday hoped that New Delhi would maintain an independent foreign policy "as before" and soon finalise the tri-nation pipeline that also includes Pakistan.

Tehran also vigorously protested against sanctions imposed by Washington due to its nuclear programme suspected by the West of developing nuclear weapons and asked other countries to join in condemning "American unilateralism".

"Relations between India and Iran are of high importance. The ties between the two countries are deep-rooted and very old," Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who is currently on a four-day visit to India, told reporters in New Delhi.

The Iranian minister met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday and discussed with them the entire gamut of bilateral and regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear programme.

Pourmohammadi also met Home Minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan.

He said that Manmohan Singh had assured him that India too does not approve of American unilateralism.

"We have received assurances from many countries that they do not approve of American unilateralism. The same assurance has been conveyed to us by India," Pourmohammadi said.

Saying that India and Iran enjoy good relations and cooperation in cultural, economic and political areas, he said his country hoped that Indian national interests and relations in the region are not "affected by external elements".

"India has an independent foreign policy and will act according to its national interests," Pourmohammadi replied when asked whether he thought India's vote against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was guided by independent thinking or was influenced by American pressure.

"We are expecting the same (independent position from India) and hope it will be repeated in international fora," he said.

"It is an internal issue of India. We would like to see India maintains its foreign policy as before," Pourmohammadi said when asked about his views on the India-US nuclear deal.

Iran has used the India-US deal many a time to accuse the US of following double standards vis-à-vis its nuclear programme, which it insists is for only production of power.

"We hope our bilateral ties will not be affected by the deal. We have respected all international laws and we will do the same in the future," the minister said.

Asserting Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which it is a signatory, the Pourmohammadi stressed that Tehran will stand up for its rights and ensure that American sanctions are defeated.

He was also optimistic that the two countries would soon be able to resolve the "technical problems" and complete the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project by 2013. The minister was confident that issues relating to the Iranian LPG deal would also be resolved soon.

Iran had criticised India's vote in the IAEA and even threatened to reduce its energy ties with New Delhi last year but over time it softened its criticism in a bid to woo New Delhi to win its backing for Tehran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

India has opposed sanctions on Iran, but has consistently advocated diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the Iranian nuclear imbroglio.

New Delhi has, however, asked Tehran to observe its NPT commitments and made it clear that a nuclear weapon Iran is not in its interests.

The Left parties in India have accused the government of compromising its independent foreign policy by voting against Tehran under American pressure - a charge denied by the government.

The US has sought cooperation from India in isolating and containing Iran for pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapon programme and is not favourably disposed towards the IPI pipeline project.