Iran: EU seeks India’s leverage, Manmohan backs diplomacy

February 10th, 2012 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The European Union, which has imposed fresh sanctions against Iran, Friday asked India to use its leverage to broker talks with Tehran over its suspect nuclear programme even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pitched for the resolution of the issue by giving “maximum scope” to diplomacy.

“We will share, I think, our deep concern on the Iranian nuclear programme, and will ask Prime Minister Singh to use India’s leverage towards Iran to help bring Tehran back to the negotiating table,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters on the sidelines of the 12th India-EU summit here.

Responding to a separate question on the Iranian nuclear issue, Manmohan Singh said Iran was India’s “close neighbour” and an important source of energy supply.

“There are problems with Iran’s nuclear programme. We sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy,” the prime minister said.

“We have six million people living in the extended neighbourhood (West Asia). Peace and stability in the region is important,” Manmohan Singh stressed.

The Iran issue was among a cluster of global issues discussed between India and the EU leaders.

“We exchanged views on the situation in West Asia, with particular reference to Syria and Iran and developments in our neighbourhood in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have a common interest in promoting stability in these areas,” Manmohan Singh said at joint press conference with the EU leaders.

Despite fresh sanctions by the US and the EU, India has made it clear that it will continue to buy Iranian oil as it contributes around 12 per cent of its hydrocarbon imports and is critical to its energy security. India and Iran recently sealed an arrangement under which New Delhi will pay for 45 percent of its imports of Iranian oil in Indian currency.

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