India should ask Iran to stop sponsoring terror: ex-US official

April 23rd, 2008 - 8:02 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) A day after India told off the US for remarks intended to influence its ties with Iran, a former aide to the Clinton administration Wednesday asked New Delhi to use its good offices with Tehran to ask the latter to stop sponsoring terrorism in the region. “Iran is supporting militant outfits like Hamas and Hezbollah and is sponsoring terrorism in the region. It is in India’s interest that Iran does not support terrorism,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential US think tank.

“India and others in the international community are against any support for terrorism,” said Haass, who was director of policy planning for the state department in 2001-2003.

“It is in India’s interest that Iran does not develop military nuclear programme,” Haass, a former aide to then US secretary of state Colin Powell, told reporters here when asked what he expected from the forthcoming visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to India.

“There is no reason for Iran to possess nuclear weapons. The international community should coordinate its position on Iran,” said Haass, an influential strategic expert and the author of a dozen books on foreign policy issues, including The Opportunity: America’s Moment to Alter History’s Course.

Haass was quick to add that he was not speaking for the current US administration and stressed it was not the US’ intention to tell India about the course of its ties with Iran.

“No government, including India, has been successful in managing Iran,” he said, adding that there is a collective failure of the international community in dealing with Tehran.

Reacting strongly to remarks of the US state department spokesperson asking New Delhi to speak to Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, India Tuesday told the US not to give unsolicited “guidance” on the course of its centuries-old relations with Iran and advocated dialogue to resolve the impasse over the Iranian nuclear programme.

With the Left parties putting the ruling coaliton on the defensive over the Iranian nuclear issue, the Manmohan Singh government is keen to assert independence of its foreign policy and will focus instead on building a more durable economic and energy partnership during Ahamadinejad’s first visit to India April 29.

India is concerned about the course of the Iranian nuclear programme, suspected of developing nuclear weapons, but has supported Tehran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the framework of its international obligations.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it clear many a time that another nuclear weapon state in India’s neighbourhood is not in New Delhi’s national interest. India is opposed to sanctions against Iran and has advocated dialogue to resolve Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

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