After US n-deal, Mukherjee goes to Iran

October 16th, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) Weeks after wrapping up the nuclear deal with the US, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will go to Tehran October end on a delicate balancing exercise that seeks to assuage Iran’s anxieties about India’s growing strategic ties with Washington. Mukherjee will co-chair the India-Iran joint commission with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, slated for Nov 1, officials said.

Mukherjee’s visit will take place in the backdrop of heartburns in Tehran after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vigorously opposed Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions at the India-EU summit in Marseilles Sept 29.

“We do not support nuclear weapon states emerging in our region. There is no question of our supporting nuclear ambitions of Iran,” Manmohan Singh had said after the EU leaders sought India’s support in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Manmohan Singh had, however, defended Tehran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy within the parameters of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The remarks did not go down well in Tehran which was evident when it criticized the India-US nuclear deal recently, saying it violated the NPT.

In Tehran, Mukherjee will meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief secretary of its Supreme National Security Council and its chief nuclear negotiator.

With the nuclear seal sealed with the US, India is keen to give a push to the $7.5 billion India-Iran gas pipeline to underline independence of its foreign policy despite Washington’s reservations about it.

Mukherjee’s visit will be a symbolic one that will underline India’s commitment to deepen age-old civilisational ties with Tehran despite New Delhi’s perceived closeness with Washington in the aftermath of the nuclear deal.

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