India, US to brainstorm on Syria, IranAugust 16th, 2012 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Amid the worsening crisis in Syria and Iran’s last-ditch effort to save the beleaguered regime in Damascus, the US is expected to press India to play a more proactive role in resolving the crisis when its UN envoy Susan Rice holds talks here next week.
This will be the first trip by Rice, US President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the UN, to India.
Rice, Obama’s trusted adviser on foreign policy issues, will hold wide-ranging discussions with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, official sources told IANS. She will also call on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
The Syria crisis, Iran and other multilateral issues like the UN Security Council reforms are expected to figure in the discussions.
Rice’s visit takes place amid the exacerbating crisis in Syria, where the stalemate between the Bashar al-Assad regime and armed opposition activists, is showing no sign of easing and in the context of the larger power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the West Asian region.
Indian officials are also expected to update Rice on the recent conference called by Iran, the principal backer of the Assad regime, to push an “indigenous solution” that focuses on pushing political reconciliation to resolve the Syrian crisis.
India sent a mid-level diplomat in the foreign office to the ministerial conference last week on Syria in Tehran.
Against this backdrop, the US, in league with friendly Arab powers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has been mounting a diplomatic offensive for the ouster of the Assad regime. Last week, Rice had accused Tehran of playing a “nefarious” role in the Syria conflict and argued that it bolstered the case for Assad to be forced out of office.
In an interview to NBC, Rice, known to be blunt and outspoken, singled out the alliance of Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and Assad’s government - also called the Middle East’s “axis of resistance” — was “bad for the region”.
“One of the reasons why we are quite clear that the end result must be and will be the departure of Assad, is because this alliance, so to speak, is bad not only for Syria, but it is bad for the region and bad for our interests,” she had said.
Discussions on Iran and Syria, informed sources pointed out, are bound to create some dissonance with New Delhi that views the Syrian issue differently in the light of new developments and is not ready to be deflected by the Western powers from pursuing its economic and energy relations with Iran.
In fact, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be going to the Aug 30-31 Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran where he is also going to hold talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
New Delhi’s calibrated shift of stance was reflected in its abstention on a vote on a recent Saudi-backed resolution on Syria in the UN General Assembly. Signalling a changed assessment of ground realities in Syria, India, which had voted earlier for the West-backed resolutions in the UN Security Council, decided to abstain as it contained a reference to the Arab League’s resolution for Assad to step down.
India, said the sources, does not want to be seen as a party to any forced regime change or external intervention and wants the Syria crisis to be resolved by the Syrian people. Abstention was a careful, calculated decision, said the sources.
India is backing a UN-led solution to the thickening Syrian crisis and feels that the UN should be given another chance to break the logjam.
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Tags: asian region, barack obama, bashar al assad, external affairs minister, foreign office, indian officials, last ditch effort, mathai, ministerial conference, multilateral issues, national security adviser, opposition activists, political reconciliation, power struggle, proactive role, ranjan, saudi arabia, susan rice, syria and iran, un security council