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Iran vote to be based on national interest, says govt
Tribune News Service and agencies

New Delhi, January 30
Mr Anand Sharma Minister of State for External Affairs, today said India's vote on the Iran nuclear issue at the February 2 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be based on its national interest.

Asserting that the government's position had been very clear and consistent, the minister said in his first media interaction after taking over that India's policy had always been clear and it had not departed from this policy. Earlier also, India's effort had been to find a solution.

He declined to elaborate, but said India's effort has been to have a solution which would be based on consensus and acceptable to all.

''Whatever decisions are taken by the government, are in conformity with our stated foreign policy and also in the interest of India and the world. We had meaningfully engaged last time also with the EU-3. We had been talking to Russia and other countries involved to find a solution to this issue. We are fully confident that eventually there will be a resolution of this too,'' he said.

He said India had spoken to other countries, including the EU-3 and Russia, and given some suggestions.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharma will soon be leaving on his first foreign visit for Brazil to co-chair the second meeting of the India Brazil Joint Commission in Brasilia on February 2.

An important engagement of Mr Sharma in Brasilia would be a meeting with the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mr Celso Amorim, to discuss the future strategy of G-4 for securing UNSC permanent membership. The G4 (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan) has recently re-tabled the resolution, seeking permanent membership of the to-be-expanded United Nations Security Council.

The minister will be accompanied by an inter-ministerial delegation of 15 officials as well as a business delegation of 10 members. In the Joint Commission Meeting, the two countries will discuss strengthening of cooperation in diverse sectors such as energy, agriculture, healthcare, trade, rural development, science and technology, defence, culture, education, tourism and space research. Educational and cultural exchange programmes will be signed during the meeting.


Iran vote

The meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency taking place in Vienna on February 2 has thrown up a crucial question for the Manmohan Singh government to decide.

The Vienna meeting is to discuss a US-backed resolution which wants the IAEA to refer the controversial enrichment of uranium by Iran to the UN Security Council. India, which is a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, has to decide during the next 48 hours who to vote for: For the United States move against Iran seeking the Iranian question to be referred to the Security Council; Or for Iran which is vehemently opposed to its reference to the UN.

A decision by the Manmohan Singh government either way will have far-reaching implications for the future course of foreign policy and India’s strategic thinking.

The Tribune today presents articles by two of its eminent columnists — S. Nihal Singh and K. Subrahmanyam — on the vital issues involved for India in the Iran vote.

The two articles, which have varied perspectives, appear on the Editorial Page.

H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief

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