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'Mulford's remarks inappropriate'

Sharply reacting to US envoy's remarks linking nuclear deal to Iran row, Foreign Secy Shyam Saran summoned him.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 11:21 IST

As Ambassador David C Mulford'scomments on Indo-US nuclear deal kicked off a furore, government on Thursday summoned the envoy and conveyed its strong displeasure, saying the remarks were "inappropriate" and "not conducive to building a strong partnership" between the two countries.

India's sharp reaction prompted the Bush administration to launch a damage control exercise, with the State Department in Washington explaining that the envoy was only reflecting"very strongly-held feelings" in the Congress and that Washington would continue to engage New Delhi in the July 18 nuclear deal talks irrespective of its position on Iran.

In New Delhi, Mulford was summoned by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran who bluntly stated that "the remarks made by him in an interview to PTI were inappropriate and not conducive to building a strong partnership between our two independent democracies," External Affairs Ministry spokesman said in a statement here.

India's action came after Mulford, in an interview to PTI on Wednesday, said if New Delhi did not vote against Tehran's nuclear programme at the February 2 IAEA meeting, the fallout on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the US Congress would be "devastating" and the Indo-US nuclear initiative will "die" in the House.

Mulford expressed his "sincere regrets", saying his remarks had been taken "out of context" and that "it was not his intention to question India's right to take decisions on various issues on the basis of its own national interest," the statement said.

Saran told Mulford that "India's vote on any possible resolution on the Iran nuclear issue at the IAEA would be determined by India'sown judgementof the merits of the case," the MEA statement said.

First Published: Jan 27, 2006 01:47 IST