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‘Meddling’ by US
Summon US envoy: CPM
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, April 23
Stung by US remarks on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s upcoming visit here, the CPM today demanded that the US ambassador be summoned to express India’s “disapproval” of “gross interference” by Washington in its relations with other countries.

“The US ambassador (to India) does need to be summoned to express our disapproval,” CPM member Brinda Karat said in the Rajya Sabha referring to the US statement that India should tell Iran to “meet the requirements of the UN Security Council” on the nuclear issue during Ahmadinejad’s visit.

Noting that the external affairs ministry spokesman has responded by saying that India did not require advice, she said though it was appropriate, “it is not enough”.

She said the US statement reflected “the imperialist arrogance of a self-appointed world policeman. We condemn this statement in the strongest term”.

Making a strong demand that the US envoy should be summoned to convey India’s “strong displeasure”, she said this was necessary because the Manmohan Singh government has “unfortunately blemished” India’s record by voting twice against Iran in the IAEA.

Karat said the US state department has thought it fit to “indulge in another act of gross interference” in India’s relations with other countries.

US state department deputy spokesman Tom Casey had said on Monday that the Bush Administration hoped that India would ask Iran to comply with UNSC requirements on its nuclear programme. The US would encourage New Delhi to ask Iran to “become a more responsible actor on the world stage”, he said.

CPM chief whip in the Lok Sabha Rupchand Pal today termed as “audacious” and “arrogant” the statement of US state department deputy spokesman on the proposed New Delhi visit of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Communist leader took exception to the statement of the US official which said, “We would hope that the Indian government, or any government that was engaging with the Iranians, including with President Ahmadinejad, would call on him 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 other requirements regarding their nuclear programme.”

Demanding that the government make a statement in the House to denounce the US state department spokesperson’s remarks, the CPM member said the US was pressurising India on how it should conduct its bilateral relations with Iran.

He said the statement amounted to an infringement on India’s sovereign position. He also noted that the external affairs ministry spokesperson had rightly rebuffed the American suggestion.


IAEA to decide on Iran’s N-programme: Pranab
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
A day after India snubbed Washington for its advice on the April 29 visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New Delhi, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee told the US that it should desist from taking on the responsibility of determining whether Teheran is manufacturing nuclear weapons.

This task, he said, should be left to the designated authority -- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

At the same time, the minister said it has consistently advised Teheran that as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it had certain responsibilities and obligations to international treaties. Mukhejree said it is not for Iran or India to certify whether its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. Here, again, he underlined that this job be left to the IAEA.

“It is not for me or for Iran to certify... It is for the IAEA to convince themselves whether Tehran’s programme is peaceful,” he told reporters at an orientation programme for mediapersons.

Mukherjee’s response on Iran which followed the MEA’s terse message to the US yesterday is being seen as a clear attempt to rectify the growing public perception that India has abandoned its independent foreign policy and become a US camp follower which had impaired its relations with Iran.

While the Left parties have been openly accusing the UPA government of being soft on the US, New Delhi’s perceived proximity to Washington has also led to considerable consternation in the Congress rank and file, which feels this shift has adversely impacted its image among the minorities.

“A pro-Washington and especially a pro-Bush policy is seen as an anti-minority stance by the electorate,” Congress leaders have often commented, stating that New Delhi’s stand on Saddam Hussein and its decision to vote against Iran on its nuclear programme has been used by its political opponents to erode the Congress base among the minorities.

The Congress is, therefore, pleased with the government’s quick thinking in inviting Ahmadinejad who will become the first Iranian President to visit India in the last four years. Besides sending a positive message to its domestic constituency, the party believes this visit will be an opportunity to clear the air with Teheran as relations between the two countries have gone through a rough patch in the last few years.

Both the UPA government and the Congress have recently made conscious efforts to reach out to the Arab world with which India has had extremely friendly relations. The two have issued periodic statements condemning the violence in Gaza, while the government took up this matter at the UN Human Rights Council. Even today, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed especially commented on the Iranian President’s forthcoming visit at the party’s daily press briefing. He welcomed the visit and hoped it would help strengthen ties between the two countries.



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