US hopes India will ask Iran to suspend uranium enrichment

April 22nd, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 22 (IANS) The US hopes India will ask Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and comply with the UN Security Council’s other demands regarding its nuclear programme. The US would also encourage New Delhi to ask Iran to “become a more responsible actor on the world stage” by ending its “rather unhelpful activities” regarding Iraq and support for terrorism, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said Monday.

“It’s up to every country to determine for itself how it’s going to organise its bilateral relations,” he said when asked if the US had any concerns about New Delhi’s invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and if the US had been sent any message about it.

Ahmadinejad visits New Delhi next week on his way to Sri Lanka.

“Well, many countries, including some of our strong allies in Europe, have diplomatic relations with Iran,” Casey noted. “And it’s up to them to determine how best to manage them.”

But “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 the other requirements regarding their nuclear programme.

“We’d also certainly encourage them to ask Iran to end its rather unhelpful activities with respect to Iraq, with respect to support for terrorism, including organisations like Hezbollah and Hamas, and to otherwise become a more responsible actor on the world stage,” Casey added.

India’s relations with Iran have been a bone of contention between New Delhi and Washington as they set out to forge a new strategic partnership including the now stalled India-US civil nuclear deal.

The Hyde Act, the US enabling law on the nuclear deal, has some non-binding prescriptive provisions relating to Iran and US officials have indicated that they are none too happy with the proposed multibillion-dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

India’s relations with Iran have cooled somewhat since New Delhi voted twice against Tehran for allegedly pursuing a nuclear programme in Vienna.

India has supported Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the framework of its international obligations, but has made it clear that another nuclear-armed nation in its neighbourhood is not in New Delhi’s interests.

Stressing India’s “civilisational and economic ties” with Iran, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said Sunday that India was in a position to promote a negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear standoff and warned that “any mishandling will impact negatively on us”.

Ahmadinejad, making his first visit to India April 29, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional and global ties. He will also discuss the status of negotiations on the gas pipeline.

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