Saturday, May 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

US posturing on Iran worries India
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

St Petersburg, May 30
India is concerned about the George Bush administration toughening its approach towards Iran and warned that opening a new front after Iraq could worsen the situation.

Even as US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushes his case for a regime change in Iran, New Delhi affirmed it did not share America’s so-called concern that the Iran is harbouring Al-Qaida elements and interfering in Iraq in a post-Saddam Hussein scenario by supporting the Shia resurgence.

“India’s reading is not so. Iranians tell us clearly that their model cannot apply to Iraq,” Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal said aboard Air-India One while flying from Munich to St Petersburg today.

Western powers are aware about India’s developing relations with Iran and strategic importance. At the same time, Teheran firmly believes that the Iranian model of governance cannot apply to Iraq. Post-Saddam Hussein, Baghdad must have a democratic process reflecting the true ethnic character of its society.

Mr Sibal said there are different views in the Western world about Iran’s so-called mischief-making. Some partners of the USA donot have the same view. The British may have some reservations in targeting the Iranian action.

On fears about Iran’s nuclear capability, the Foreign Secretary said Western powers want Iran to sign the additional protocol. “India will want to maintain its distance....We don’t want to be a participant in this kind of a debate. At the same time, if the instability in Iraq spills over to Iran, it will complicate matters even more,” he said.

Mr Sibal said India was worried about the developments but has no desire of getting involved or offering its good offices.

Mr Rumsfeld call for sending the Iranian Government packing is another indication of Washington’s belligerent attitude and has been a matter for serious concern. “The fact that Britain might have strong reservations is significant,” he said.

The Delhi-Lahore bus service would resume sooner than later if all went well at the meeting of technical experts from India and Pakistan early next month, said Mr Sibal.

He said Pakistan had responded favourably to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s announcement on the resumption of the bus service.

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