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India rejects US advice on Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Iranian president is due in India next week

India has rebuffed a call by the United States for it to ask Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.

The foreign ministry said neither India nor Iran needed external guidance on how to conduct bilateral relations.

It said relations between the two spanned centuries, and they were capable of handling them with due care.

Earlier, a senior US official said Washington would welcome India telling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to curtail Tehran's nuclear programme.

President Ahmadinejad is due to visit Delhi next week.

Engagement

"India and Iran are ancient civilisations whose relations span centuries. Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention," Navtej Sarna, a foreign ministry spokesman, was quoted by the Indian Express newspaper as saying.

"Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations as both countries believe that engagement and dialogue alone lead to peace," he added.

George Bush (left) and Manmohan Singh at the White House
The Iran issue casts a shadow over US-India relations

Earlier, US state department spokesman Tom Casey said: "We would hope that the Indian government... would call on him [President Ahmadinejad] to meet the requirements that the Security Council and the international community has placed on him in terms of suspending their uranium enrichment activities and complying with the other requirements regarding their nuclear programme."

In the past, Tehran has singled India out for criticism over Delhi's support for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear plans.

In September 2005, Tehran threatened to reconsider its economic co-operation with Delhi after India voted at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

India and Iran have been in negotiations over a $7bn gas pipeline deal that would help India's energy supply problems.

The Indian government came under attack both from the opposition as well as communist allies for its decision to side with the West and vote against Iran, a traditional ally.

Critics said Delhi's vote was linked to the India-US nuclear accord.

Washington suspects Iran of developing its nuclear programme for military purposes.

Tehran denies seeking nuclear arms, saying it wants nuclear technology purely for peaceful production of energy.




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