Friday, September 16, 2005

No difference with US on Iran: Manmohan

The Times of India:
There is no difference in objectives between India and the United States vis-a-vis Iran even if the two sides differ on tactics, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday, allaying concern that the issue may scupper growing Indo-US ties.

Singh told the Indian media in a wrap-up press conference at the end of his New York visit that the US leadership understood India's concerns in the matter of Iran. There were three and half million Indians working in the Gulf and India had the world's second largest Shia population. Therefore India preferred a consensus to a premature confrontation.

"All we are saying is that diplomacy should be given maximum scope. The IAEA should be given a chance to work out a consensus," Dr Singh said, elaborating on an issue that has suddenly leapt center stage in US-India ties, with the Bush administration pressing New Delhi for support in confronting Iran. READ MORE

Singh however said he did not see a crisis in India's relationship with the US and he had explained New Delhi's position to President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. India did not want another nuclear weapons power in the region.

"We are not holding an alibi or a brief for Iran's nuclear weapons program. Iran must oblige by its obligations and committments," Dr Singh said.

The Prime Minister also clarified that his remark to President Bush about former Prime Minister Vajpayee's criticism of the US-India nuclear deal was made in the specific context of the vigorous debates in the legislatures of both countries.

It is the task of human ingenuity to reconcile differences between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday, maintaining there was no backward movement in talks between the two countries.

Broadly indicating possible out-of-box solutions that even Gen.Musharraf alluded to in his press conference on Thursday, Dr Singh said there was no change in India's position that any solution to the problem would not involve redrawing the borders. At the same time Pakistan is not ready accept LoC as the border.

As a result, the two sides need to work towards making borders irrelevant in a manner which reconciles these positions, he said.

"There is no doubt there is going to be no redrawing of the borders," Dr Singh twice asserted, in a clear indication that any solution would at best involve soft borders and free movement of people without any exchange of territory.